An eating club
is a social and dining institution begun around the turn of the century at Princeton University. A fire at the time had destroyed the campus center; the University allocated funds for groups of students to form dining groups and purchase facilities. These facilities are elegant buildings (well, some of them are) of various sizes situated along Prospect Avenue
, on the north side of the Princeton
campus. Over time, the eating clubs have managed to acquire certain reputations for themselves, which indirectly affects the type of people that apply to join there.
There are two types of clubs, selective and open. Selective clubs recruit members through a process known as bicker, which is remarkably like the selection process employed by fraternities, which Princetonians will be quick to point out aren't the same thing at all. Open clubs participate in a single lottery system, in which individuals or groups of any size can apply with his/her/their first, second and third choices for a club (including waiting lists). A computer then crunches them randomly and tries to fit everyone in as best it can.
Sometimes clubs vanish. Cannon Club ceased to be after a student fell from its roof during a party and their parents sued the club. Rather than defend itself, the club took the funding the University gave it for its defense (as well as its current capital) and threw an enormous party- after which point the building was sold to the University. Cannon was later resurrected as part of an entity comprising three former clubs, called Dial-Elm-Cannon or DEC for short.
The eating clubs:
...and I'm sure I'll be roundly abused if I forgot any. :-)
Eating clubs form the center of a large part of upperclass (juniors and seniors, not elitist, thank you very much...well, most of the clubs aren't, anyway) social activity; parties, trips, meals, activities and more are typically formed or organized by clubs. The clubs are run by a board of alumni (the Grad Board) for each club, as well as by an elected group of current student officers. Each club hires kitchen staff, custodial staff as required, etc. etc. as well as organizing students to take care of chores like party setup/cleanup, grounds work, etc.
Some Princetonians will claim loudly that they went to college at their eating club, which they're pretty sure was affiliated with some university or other.