Final Clubs TBT: ‘Clubs Debate Women, Alcohol’ 


The Indy goes back 30 years to look at the Final Club debates of yore.


This week, the Harvard Independent is bringing you an article from our October 18, 1985 issue. Apparently the final clubs have debated whether or not to invite women to punch for over thirty years.

Amidst the festivities of the punching season, final club current members are considering changes in their drinking and sex discrimination policies.

While members of the nine exclusive social clubs are considering opening their doors to women, many said their more immediate concern is alcohol safety. Alumni in the Inter-Club Council, which has total control of the clubs’ actions, and new stricter Massachusetts liquor laws have persuaded undergraduates to tighten the traditionally loose final club rules on drinking.

Most of the clubs are going to begin “enforcing the old but rarely noticed policy of not serving alcohol to anyone who is underage,” said one club member who asked not to be identified. Some clubs will ban open bars and ask members to buy and store their own liquor, according to members of several clubs.

“There will definitely be serious policy changes in the near future,” said Arthur Merkin’85, the Fox Club’s Liquid Operations Manager and Coordinator (or “Lomac”).  “We are very concerned about liabilities,” he added. “We don’t want to see any of our members getting into cars drunk.”

The club presidents are expected to respond tomorrow to a request by Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III that they consider admitting women as members. Epps urged the nine to do so at a dinner last week. “I cannot predict on the basis of the meeting whether any of the clubs plan to admit women this year, but I do expect them to as for more time to consider the question,” Epps said.

The student-faculty Committee on College Life will meet on Monday for the first time this semester to decide on deadlines for club compliance with the College’s non-discrimination policy.

College Life passed a resolution last may which recommended that the College consider cutting all ties with the discriminatory undergraduate organizations by October 1. Ties to the clubs include Centrex phone lines and University-provided steam heat, but most of the clubs are untying those knots themselves.

Club presidents declined to comment on the content of their dinner meeting with Epps, but one club president said, “We thought the discussions were a constructive contribution to a very serious dialogue.”

At the dinner, Epps told club presidents that admitting women would be consistent with their organizations’ original purpose “to promote manners and learning.” He added that he would like to see more clubs follow the example of the Signet Society, an exclusive club for members with literary interests, instead of remaining “almost strictly social.”

Admitting women would “ensure the future of the clubs” because male students are becoming increasingly “equality-minded,” Epps added, and might not be interested in joining all-male clubs in the future.


The Harvard Independent supposes that the more things change, the more they tend to stay the same.