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State Issues Stay In All-Male, Eating Club Ruling

August 11, 1987

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Princeton University’s two remaining all-male eating clubs have received a reprieve from an order that they break their century-old traditions and admit women this school year.

State Civil Rights Director Pamela Poff recently granted a stay of her order forcing the Ivy Club and the Tiger Inn to open their doors to women until the clubs can appeal her decision to a state appeals court.

Both clubs have filed papers indicating they plan to appeal.

However, Ms. Poff required the clubs to post $5,000 in bonds for the damages she ordered them to pay Sally Frank, a Princeton graduate who began fighting to gain admission to the clubs in 1979 when she was a junior.

The damages were levied against the clubs to compensate for ″pain and humiliation″ Ms. Frank suffered when she tried to join them.

″We didn’t oppose it. There was no argument not to grant the stay,″ said Ms. Frank. She said the delay in enforcing the decision does not signal the ruling in her favor is likely to be overturned.

Ms. Poff ruled that the clubs are public accommodations subject to the state’s anti-discrimination laws and can be required to admit women.

Social life at Princeton University, which began admitting women in 1969, revolves around five selective and eight ″open″ eating clubs, where most juniors and seniors take their meals. The clubs are housed in privately owned, 19th-century houses lining a street which runs through the school’s campus.

Students pay $2,400 to $2,900 to the clubs in annual fees, and there is a competition known as a bicker, usually in late January, to join one of the selective clubs.

Ms. Poff rejected a decision by Administrative Law Judge Robert S. Miller, who had decided the clubs can remain all-male if they sever their ties with the school.

Lawyers for the clubs have maintained they are privately owned, not part of the school, and can set their own membership standards.

Ms. Frank’s lawsuit originally named a third club, the Cottage Club. Its graduate board of directors voted last year to admit women and paid Ms. Frank $20,000 in a settlement.

The university also was named in Ms. Frank’s original lawsuit, but was dropped last summer when it agreed to pay her $27,500 in legal fees and to disassociate itself from the club’s admission practices. The university later re-entered the case on Ms. Frank’s side, advocating that the clubs be forced to admit women because they are an integral and long-standing part of campus life.

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