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UPDATED: September 13, 2016, at 8:21 p.m.
This semester, the all-male Owl Club will, for the first time in its history, hold a punch process “open to all sophomore males,” and by invitation for junior and senior males, according to Owl undergraduate president Kevin D. Rex ’17.
The move makes the Owl the fourth final club to make public its intention to open up its recruitment to a wider swath of the undergraduate population than usual. The all-male Porcellian and A.D. clubs, as well as the the all-female, but soon-to-be gender neutral Sablière Society are also holding single-gender punches open to sophomores this fall.
Punch—the weeks-long process through which final clubs select their new members by inviting successively fewer candidates to club-hosted events—has a long history among Harvard’s final clubs. Traditionally invite-only, this year the Owl’s first event will more closely resemble a typical fraternity rush—open to all sophomore males.
Though Rex, in an email, declined to comment on the rationale behind the club’s change, the other three clubs hosting open punches have attributed, at least partially, the intense pressure levied by Harvard administrators over the past year as an impetus behind their precedent-breaking changes.
That pressure, which last fall also saw the previously all-male Spee Club go co-ed and the all-male Fox Club add women (though that move has now effectively been reversed), culminated in the announcement of a College policy that will heavily penalize members of unrecognized single-gender clubs like the Owl and its single-gender compatriots, starting with the Class of 2021.
Still, since the announcement of the policy in May, no all-male clubs have publicly indicated an intent to go gender neutral, a move College administrators, including Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, have explicitly and urgently requested.
Though pressure from College administrators may have catalyzed changes at some clubs, transitions have not always been smooth. The decision by Fox Club undergraduates to add women to their ranks without the approval of the club’s graduate board created a deep rift between graduate and undergraduate members. Over the summer, graduates officially voted to remain single-gender, though the current female members will retain “provisional” membership until this summer.
The A.D., meanwhile, experienced some logistical fumbles in planning their first open punch event, apparently unintentionally emailing invitations to some women with masculine-seeming names.
The A.D.’s first open punch event will be held on Tuesday evening at the Sheraton Commander.
—Staff writer C. Ramsey Fahs can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ramseyfahs.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: September 13, 2016
Because of an editing error, a previous version of this article incorrectly indicated the Owl would hold open punch for junior and senior men. In fact, their punch is invite-only.
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