6 Famous Eating Club Members at Princeton University

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If you’ve never heard about PU’s “Eating Clubs”, you probably think it’s a wacky group of people who dedicate an entire meeting talking about and then just eating food. Not so much.

The eating clubs are separate institutions within Princeton University. Each club has its own mansion, where members can eat and socialize.

It sounds like a fraternity or sorority, but there are major differences. Clubs don’t choose based on gender, and will accept both male and female. Also, eating club members don’t live in the mansion.

Each mansion functions very much like a country club where members can use the billiard room, the library, computer room, and other facilities. Each mansion also has a large green yard for outdoor club activities.

Princeton Eating Clubs

Until the 1980s, fraternities and sororities were banned on Princeton grounds, so eating clubs came to be, from dinner parties. There are 12 clubs, with members ranging from 120 to around 180, but never 200 or more.

  1. The first to be founded was the Ivy Club
  2. Next was the Cottage Club
  3. Then came Cap and Gown Club
  4. Campus Club
  5. Cannon Dial Elm Club
  6. Cloister Inn
  7. Charter Club
  8. Colonial Club
  9. Quadrangle Club
  10. Terrace Club
  11. Tiger Inn
  12. Tower Club

Each club has its own rules, contributes, and policies.

Some eating clubs had closed their doors, leaving only these 12 clubs currently open. Many famous celebrities and personalities have joined these clubs (Princeton juniors and seniors have the option of choosing which clubs they want to join).

Some clubs have rigorous admittance processes. Other students don’t choose to join the clubs, and can instead eat at a university-funded hall (much like Michelle Obama did during her time at Princeton).

The clubs are not officially affiliated with the university, although the mansions are located (club leaders rent the space) within Princeton’s grounds.

Famous Princeton Eating Club Members

Brooke Shields


Shields is an actor-model. She went to Princeton University in the 1980s so that she could earn a degree in French Literature. While there, she became a member of the Triangle Club and the Cap and Gown Club. She graduated from the university in 1987.

Woodrow Wilson


The 28th president of the United States of America was a member of the Ivy Club. Wilson had a hard time learning at a young age because of his dyslexia, so he taught himself the Graham shorthand.

He enrolled in Davidson College, but an illness made him withdraw from the school. He soon transferred to Princeton University, where he joined the Ivy Club. He graduated in 1879.

In 1902, he became the university’s president, and he actually wanted to abolish the eating clubs because he viewed them as elitist and disrupting the college.

The alumni and administration were greatly against him, and wanted him to resign. Wilson became sick again, and so he took a leave, and after a while, joined the country’s political race.

Some people from Princeton believed him, though. Eventually, the eating clubs began to become more open, and are now more rounded organizations, where clubs host games, fundraisers, and outreach or volunteer activities.

David Duchovny


The actor that plays Agent Fox Mulder on FOX’s “X-Files” went to Princeton University for a BA in English Literature. He graduated in 1982, but while in school, he was part of the Charter Club.

Laurance Rockefeller


The businessman and philanthropist, who helped established institutions like the Rockefeller University, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, and Museum of Modern Art, among others.

He attended Princeton University, and graduated in 1932, after which he decided to study law at Harvard, but changed his mind after two years. While in Princeton, Rockefeller was part of the Ivy Club.

Wentworth Miller


Miller is the star of the wildly successful FOX series, “Prison Break”, which will make a comeback in 2017.

He studied at Princeton University and graduated in 1995. He studied under an English Literature degree program. During his college years, he joined a Capella group, and two eating clubs, Quadrangle and Colonial.

F. Scott Fitzgerald


He wrote several American classic novels, including The Great Gatsby. But his first novel, “This Side of Paradise”, revolves around a Princeton University student. Here, Fitzgerald uses the eating clubs as his setting.

He wanted to join the university football team, but he didn’t make the cut, so he spent his time developing his writing skills. He wrote for the Triangle Club’s paper, and became part of the group. He submitted his writings to a publisher, but his book was rejected.

He then joined the Cottage Club (although he received offers from other eating clubs) because the group was dedicated to “the ideal of the fashionable gentleman).

His desk and writing materials are still in the library of the Cottage Club, on display for visitors to see.

Every beginning of the year, all clubs work together to raise funds, with food trucks, for the community. Students can start joining clubs at the second semester of their second year at Princeton. Five clubs are open for registration (the other 7 have their own admittance process).

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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