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Changes Mark Last Punch Process Before Sanctions

Spee Club Punch Event
Sophomore men and women stand outside the clubhouse of the Spee Wednesday evening, before the group's first punch event.
Sporting formal wear and spouting small talk, College sophomores this week kicked off a punch season unlike any other in the tradition’s long history.

Traditionally invite-only and single-gender, this year’s punch process—a final club-specific term for the weeks-long process by which students are chosen for membership in one of Harvard’s twelve final clubs—features eight “open” punches and two gender neutral ones.

This punch season is also the last before a controversial College policy penalizes sophomores for joining single-gender groups. Though the policy could still be altered by a committee tasked with reviewing it, some clubs have nevertheless made significant changes to longstanding punch traditions.

The gender-neutral Sab Club and the all-male A.D. Club have been the most public about the new format of their punches.

Like last fall, the A.D. sent mass invitations to their first punch event—this year, at the Cambridge Skating Club on Sept. 12—via email. Because the College does not recognize final clubs, the A.D. cannot publicize its open punch through methods employed by recognized student organizations, such as emailing over House lists or postering on College bulletin boards.

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The Sab similarly emailed many sophomores of all genders to punch the club at events space “Warehouse XI” Thursday evening in Somerville for the group’s gender-inclusive punch event.

“As a club that has stood behind efforts to increase equity and transparency within the college’s social landscape, it was incredibly important to us that we still conducted an open punch this year, not just to keep our word, but to give every sophomore a chance to put his or her best foot forward,” Lulu S. Chua-Rubenfeld ’18, the president of the Sab, wrote in an emailed statement to The Crimson.

The Owl Club will host its second open punch this year for interested sophomore men as well. In September 2016, then-undergraduate president Kevin D. Rex ’17 first announced the Owl’s intention to hold a punch process “open to all sophomore males.”

Though less publicly, Harvard’s female final clubs are extending their invitations to prospective members besides those that members of the clubs personally select—a practice in line with that of previous years.

“We want to include all Sophomore girls!” the Bee Club, which is now sharing membership with the Delphic, wrote in this year’s invitation to its first punch event. “R.S.V.P. with your name and the name of each friend you’re bringing.”

Invites from the La Vie, the IC, and the Pleiades Society also encouraged recipients of their punch cards to bring friends.

The all-male Porcellian Club, in comparison, is taking a much less public approach to its “open” punch again. Though the club committed to an open punch in April 2016, that fall the club distributed invitations to only a select group of sophomore men

—Staff writer Derek G. Xiao can be reached at derek.xiao@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @derekgxiao.

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