Yale University has enrolled women undergraduates for more than two decades. But co-education has not permeated the entire university. Skull and Bones, perhaps the best-known of Yale's "secret societies" (it counts President Bush as a member), remains steadfastly male. Tired of waiting for the club's alumni board to consider the issue, current seniors included women when they tapped 15 juniors for the honor of membership.
This past weekend, the society's alumni directors took their revenge, suspending operation of the club and changing the combination on the lock that closes the doors of the "Tomb," the society's venerable meeting place. "The board felt it had to maintain its control over portions of the process and would not be backed into a corner," a spokesman explained.
With or without access to the "Tomb," we suspect the current seniors will ultimately prevail. In a letter to 850 alumni members, they maintained their decision to tap women was "not the result of a passing political fad any more than the civil rights movement was." In other words, every tradition has its limits.