In Bicker overhaul, 5 clubs choose new dual-club system
Cannon Dial Elm Club, Cap & Gown Club, Charter Club, Cottage Club and Tiger Inn will participate in the new system, according to an announcement by the Interclub Council late Wednesday night. Ivy Club and Tower Club, the other two bicker clubs, will not participate.
During Bicker week, both sophomores and upperclassmen hoping to join one of the five participating clubs can enter in the selection process for up to two of them. Students can either bicker two selective clubs or bicker one selective club and attend events at Charter, which is not a bicker club, to accumulate points. Students can accumulate points at Charter by attending events at the club, boosting their chances of gaining membership.
Charter has used this weighted sign-in system for two years and has filled to capacity in the first round of sign-ins in previous years.
The change to the Bicker process accompanied a commitment by all 11 clubs to synchronize their membership selection processes and provide more open events to showcase the clubs to underclassmen.
“It was more about changing the mindset of the Street at a very fundamental level to make it more open and accepting,” said ICC president Alec Egan ’13, who is also president of Cap & Gown. Egan added that the change to the Bicker system “was just a fringe thing that we wanted to go ahead and move forward with too.”
There will still be three days of bicker under the new schedule, featuring two two-hour bicker sessions on the Sunday of bicker week and two 90-minute sessions on the Monday and Tuesday. Students bickering two clubs will attend one Bicker session each day at both clubs. Students who are only bickering one club will only be able to attend one session a day.
These timing changes were made partly to ensure that students bickering only one club do not have an advantage in the selection process. Egan said clubs will be policing their own members during discussions and Bicker to prevent unfair advantages, and sophomores bickering only one club will be expected not to mention that fact during Bicker.
Egan acknowledged that the change could potentially result in a large increase in the number of students bickering each club. This could make discussions last much longer or instead reduce the amount of time club members spend discussing each student bickering.
“That’s been a big concern for everyone,” Egan said.
In response, pickups will be moved to Saturday to give the clubs an extra day of discussions on Friday.
TI president Ben Barron ’13 said all the clubs were in support of the changes that were being made, even though Tower and Ivy are not implementing the system right away.
“We think that it’s going to be a process that is beneficial for both people seeking to gain admission to the clubs and people who are members of the clubs and club culture,” Barron said.
Barron said the new change would likely impact the number of students who bicker TI in February. Nevertheless, he emphasized that students who choose to bicker only TI will not have any advantage over students who bicker another club as well.
“That’s a pretty pivotal point of the new proposal and will be one of the things that we are working hardest to implement as we implement the new system,” he said.
Tower president Jamie Joseph ’13 said her club did not adopt the new system in part because it would reduce the amount of time sophomores could spend at the club during Bicker.
Currently, Joseph said students could spend as few as nine and as many as 15 hours bickering the club. Under the new system, students can only spend five hours bickering a particular club.
“If you have less time with members of the club and less quality interactions with members of the club during Bicker, then your experience during Bicker will be less significant than your interactions with the club prior to Bicker,” Joseph said. “We want our process to welcome students along the spectrum of familiarity with our club.”
Charter’s events will occur during the same time as the Bicker events, according to Charter president Rodrigo Menezes ’13, who praised the change.
“It makes it less stressful. It allows sophomores not to have all their eggs in one basket,” Menezes said. “It’s a little ironic that we’re being put in the selective group while simultaneously becoming more open.”
Wednesday evening’s announcement is the culmination of a three-year evaluation of the eating club admission process, a discussion that has always had Bicker reforms as its backdrop.
On May 14, University Vice President and Secretary Bob Durkee ’69 confirmed that the eating clubs were in talks about a possible multi-club bicker system, though he did not say which clubs, if any, supported the proposal. Durkee’s confirmation came a day after Joseph emailed Tower members indicating that the system under discussion would have allowed sophomores to bicker two clubs at a time.
Discussions continued into this fall. In September, before the ICC publicly announced any changes to the club selection process, Menendez announced that the club would revise its sign-in process as a result of the new system.
In an email to Charter members, he said sophomores would be able to attend events that would give them the points they needed to get into Charter even while they were bickering two other clubs.
This year’s changes to the eating club admission process were kicked off in May 2010 by the report of the Task Force on Relationships between the University and the Eating Clubs.
University President Shirley Tilghman established the Eating Clubs Task Force — which was chaired by Durkee — in September 2009. She charged the group with, among other things, reexamining the process by which the clubs admit members.
In the report, the Task Force recommended implementing a “match” system by which students bickered a number of clubs, and later rank their preferences. The selective clubs would also rank the students they wanted to admit, and a mutual match would be made. The system has been compared to the process sororities use to admit new members and the system medical schools use to admit students.
Eating club presidents expressed disapproval of this proposed change at the time. Then-ICC adviser Tim Prugar told The Daily Princetonian that clubs were concerned about the increased volume of students that would bicker and the impact this would have on the length of discussions.
According to the Task Force’s report, the process of Bicker first appeared at certain eating clubs in 1914. By midcentury, students bickered every club and were guaranteed a spot in at least one — a system known as “100-percent bicker.” In the “Dirty Bicker” of 1958, 23 students, more than half of them Jewish, did not receive bids. By 1962, clubs had dropped their commitment to granting every student at least one spot.
In the 1967, Terrace became the first club to drop bicker and begin admitting students on an open basis. By the late 1970s, Cap & Gown, Cottage, Ivy, TI and Tower were the only clubs that still conducted bicker. By that point students chose which clubs they wanted to bicker, and frequently bickered more than one. But by the late 1980s, the current system of bickering just one club was solidified.
The University has attempted to implement a multi-club bicker system many times in the past, most recently in 1999, but these efforts have been largely unsuccessful.
Contributor Kristen McNierney contributed reporting.