A plan to modify the eating-club selection process won the support of eight of the 10 clubs, but less than three weeks before the start of bicker, the changes were put off for a year.

All clubs but Ivy and Charter had agreed to the proposal by the end of December, according to Robert K. Durkee ’69, the University’s vice president and secretary, who chaired a University task force that issued a report on the eating clubs last May. Among the report’s recommendations were the use of a computerized match program to help select club members and a single system that would place both bicker and sign-in applicants.

Discussions continued during the summer and fall to develop details of such a plan. With eight clubs ready to implement the proposal this year, intensive planning and computer programming began.  

However, on Jan. 11 the University announced that the changes would be deferred for a year.

“More time is needed to refine, test, and publicize the new system, and it is hoped that with the additional time, the remaining two clubs also will decide to participate,” Durkee said. “While the process can work with eight clubs, it would work a whole lot better with all 10.”

Under the proposal, bicker would not be affected at the five selective clubs. But every student who registered for the new selection process would be guaranteed membership at one of the 10 clubs, and notification of all club placements would take place at the same time in an attempt to to minimize hurt feelings of unsuccessful bicker candidates.  

“The new proposal in its current form is not a huge departure from the current system, but it is a step in the right direction,” said J. Michael Portillo ’11, president of Tiger Inn.  

Christopher Merrick ’08, the Interclub Council’s graduate adviser, said the plan seeks to change the way students approach club selection “from a hit-or-miss attempt to join one club to something that more resembles an application to the Street as a whole, in which a student is placed into his or her highest-ranked available club.”

Durkee said there is a “reasonable expectation” that, with more time, Ivy and Charter will support the plan.

Ivy wants to see a “fully functional” system before making a decision, said club president John Zacharias ’11. But he added: “As long as the proposed system does not affect our bicker process or our legal status, we believe that the proposal could benefit the eating-club system as a whole.”

Charter president Justin Knutson ’11 said Charter had withheld its support for two reasons: the “rushed nature of the proposal” and concern about how the plan would affect changes the club made to its own process this year.   The club introduced a weighted sign-in system for this year’s sophomores in which they could accumulate points for attending events and meals at the club.

Cloister Inn, the last of the eight clubs to approve the proposal, raised concerns in January that likely would have affected its participation this year, according to club president Barrett LaChance ’11.

LaChance said he anticipated further changes in the process for next year and believed that all clubs will agree to it. But he questioned “the need to replace the old system with a new system that is essentially the same, with a few quirks and burdens, and claim some sort of victory from it.”

A major task force goal, Durkee said, was to “sustain the viability of a 10-club system, and especially of the five sign-in clubs.” He said the current level of club participation supports “9½ clubs.”  

Registering online, students would be asked if they plan to bicker.

Bicker candidates also would be asked to rank their preferred sign-in clubs. They would go through their club’s bicker process; if rejected, they would be placed in the highest-ranking nonselective club with an opening. At the end of the week, all bicker candidates would learn if they were admitted to their selective club or placed in a sign-in club.

Non-bicker students could register as individuals or in groups, ranking their preferences among the sign-in clubs. (At the beginning of the week, those clubs would learn who had ranked them first, and events for these students could be held during the week.) At week’s end, sign-in applicants would be placed in their highest-ranking club with an opening. An oversubscribed club would be filled by random selection; students not selected would be placed in a second round along with unsuccessful bicker applicants.

The process would continue until every ­student who submitted a list of preferences was placed.