Officially unrecognized Harvard College social clubs

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Social clubs exist at Harvard College that are unrecognized by Harvard itself. The most prominent of these (and oldest, dating to 1791) are the traditionally all-male, exclusive final clubs. More recently, beginning in 1991, all-female final clubs, as well as fraternities and sororities along the lines of similar organizations found at many colleges and universities, have appeared.

While a small number of these organizations have begun to admit both sexes, most do not—​​the reason, in general, that Harvard College refuses to recognize them. In 2016, Harvard undertook to further marginalize organizations that, in its stated view, are "exclusionary and disempowering",[1] by barring members of unrecognized single-sex organizations from campus leadership positions and from receiving certain types of Harvard recommendation letters.

Origins[edit]

The historical basis for the name "final clubs" dates to the late 19th century,a time when Harvard had a variety of clubs for students of each class year.[citation needed] During that period, Harvard College freshmen could join a freshman club, then a "waiting club," and eventually, as they neared completion of their studies, a "final club."[citation needed] Hence, students of different years joined different clubs, and the "final clubs" were so named because they were the last social club a person could join before graduation.[citation needed] Harvard's final clubs for women date to 1991 (i.e., 200 years later), for instance, with the founding of the Bee Club.[2][3]

Many of the clubs were founded in the 19th century, after Harvard banned traditional fraternities in the 1850s.[citation needed] Of the final clubs still in existence (see below), only the Fox was initially founded as a final club. The Phoenix SK is the amalgam of three separate clubs: the Phoenix, the Sphinx, and the Kalumet.[citation needed] The Iroquois Club built the edifice now owned by the Office for the Arts at Harvard, at 74 Mount Auburn Street;[citation needed] their dance studio is the former Iroquois dining hall.[citation needed] The original Pi Eta Club built the structure now occupied by Upstairs On The Square, and Grendel's Den.[citation needed]

The clubs[edit]

There are also other social organizations not recognized by Harvard University, including the Oak Club,[citation needed] that do not own property but regularly hold social events.[citation needed]

History[edit]

The Harvard men's final clubs trace their roots to the late 18th century, while the five all-female social clubs were founded more recently.[citation needed] Another women's organization, the Seneca, distinguishes itself as a "501(c)(3) nonprofit women's organization that is often misidentified as a final club."[this quote needs a citation] Several other clubs are also 501(c)(3) organizations and engage in some community service. The Bee was founded in 1991,[citation needed] The Seneca in 1999,[citation needed] Isis in 2000,[citation needed] Pleiades in 2002,[citation needed] Sabliere in 2002,[citation needed] and La Vie in 2008.[10] (The co-ed Signet Society, The Harvard Crimson, Harvard Advocate and Harvard Lampoon also have selective membership, but their charters define them as something other than social organizations, based on their literary or artistic characteristics.[citation needed])

Eight of the male clubs own real estate in Harvard Square, with the clubhouses usually including dining areas, libraries, and game rooms.[citation needed] Most are staffed with chefs, stewards, and other paid personnel, and serve lunch and dinner meals at regular schedules.[citation needed] The Delphic Club boasts a regulation-size squash court.[11]

The Bee Club rents space from the Fly Club at 45 Dunster Street in a building that was previously the D.U. Club (the "Duck") before the D.U. Club's graduate membership merged with the Fly in 1996. In a controversial move, the Fly did not allow former D.U. undergraduate members to integrate,[12] and subsequently the undergraduate D.U. membership formed The Oak Club.[citation needed] La Vie Club rents a colonial style house on Garden Street.[citation needed] The Isis rents a portion of The Owl's premises.[citation needed] Recently,[when?] the Sabliere Society obtained property in the Square.[citation needed] Recently,[when?] the Pleiades Society obtained an apartment on Waterhouse Street.[13][citation needed]

In 1984, as required by Title IX legislation, the clubs opted to become fully independent, and since then have maintained themselves beyond university regulation.[citation needed] The clubs own real estate property in Cambridge, collectively assessed at over $17 million as of 2006.[citation needed]

Controversy[edit]

Harvard severed ties with final clubs in 1985 because of their refusal to admit women.[14]

During the 2006 Senate hearings on the nomination of Samuel Alito to the United States Supreme Court, Senator Edward Kennedy was among those highlighting Alito's membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton, which had opposed admission of women into Princeton; when Kennedy's membership in the Owl Club was pointed out, Kennedy resigned from the club.[citation needed] That same year, Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick's membership in the Fly Club was criticized as contradictory to his image as a champion of civil rights; Patrick responded that he had left the club in the early 1980s for that reason.[15][Subscription required]

In the fall of 2015, Harvard President Drew Faust criticized the clubs for—as stated by C. Ramsey Fahs of The Harvard Crimson—their "alleged gender exclusivity and the potential for alcohol abuse and sexual assault on the off-campus properties."[16] The Spee Club began admitting women in later 2015,[17] and the Fox Club followed suit but was soon temporarily shut down as graduate board members sought to re-evaluate what it meant to be a "member of the Fox".[this quote needs a citation] The other seven clubs remain all-male but have partnered with the female final clubs.[citation needed]

As part of an effort to marginalize organizations that "contribute to a social life and a student culture that for many on our campus is disempowering and exclusionary", a new policy provides[1] that students entering in the fall of 2017 or later who join unrecognized single-sex organizations (such as single-sex final clubs, fraternities, and sororities) will be barred from campus leadership positions such as team captaincies, and from receiving recommendation letters from Harvard requisite for scholarships and fellowships.[14] At least one club has protested that the new rule infringes students' right of free association,[14] and enforcement may be stymied by the difficulty of establishing who the members of each club are.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Khurana, Rakesh (2016-05-06). "Untitled letter addressed "Dear President Faust" [Opening "I write today to convey the College’s recommendations for addressing the problems created for our community by the discriminatory membership policies of undergraduate unrecognized single-gender social organizations, including Final Clubs".]" (PDF, letter on stationery, from college.harvard.edu). pp. 1–4, esp. 1. Retrieved 11 May 2016. [Quoting, end of paragraph 2, p. 1:] At a time when Harvard is preparing citizens and citizen-leaders to bring people together and embrace an increasingly diverse and interconnected world, these organizations contribute to a social life and a student culture that for many on our campus is disempowering and exclusionary. 
  2. ^ a b Felton, Lena K. & Wharton, Molly E. (2013-10-10). "Female Final Clubs: A Retrospection" (online article). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  3. ^ Francis, A.M. (2015). Secret Societies Vol. 3: The Collegiate Secret Societies of America. LULU Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-312-93285-2. Retrieved June 2, 2016. 
  4. ^ Mcauley, James K. (2010-10-07). "The Women's Final Clubs". The Harvard Crimson. Archived from the original (online blog) on 2014-12-14. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  5. ^ de Silva, D. Richard et al. (1992-02-12). "Bee Expands Membership: All-Female Social Club Invites Three Undergrads to Join" (online article). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  6. ^ Alexakis, Georgia N. (1998-02-17). "The Bee: A Club of Their Own" (online article, full). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  7. ^ Mcauley, James K. (2010-10-05). "The Men's Final Clubs". The Harvard Crimson. Archived from the original (online blog) on 2014-12-27. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Thorne, Gabriela (2015-07-16). "#tbt to Going Greek" (online blog). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  9. ^ Miraval, Nathalie R. (2012-04-03). "Fourth Sorority To Join Greek Life" (online blog). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  10. ^ The Commonwealth Of Massachusetts Staff (2008). "La Vie Club Incorporated Summary Screen". Boston, MA: The Commonwealth Of Massachusetts, William Francis Galvin, Secretary Of The Commonwealth, Corporations Division. Archived from the original (government database entry) on June 4, 2016. Retrieved 11 May 2016. [better source needed]
  11. ^ Beam, Alex (2009-05-20). "Harvard's Vanishing Squash Courts". Vanity Fair. 
  12. ^ Granade, Matthew W. (1996-02-12). "D.U., Fly Clubs Agree to Merge" (online article). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  13. ^ CHC Staff (2009). "City of Cambridge, Landmarks and Other Protected Properties" (PDF). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Historical Commission. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 6, 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  14. ^ a b c Saul, Stephanie (2016-05-07). "Harvard Restrictions Could Reshape Exclusive Student Clubs". The New York Times.  Unknown parameter |note= ignored (help)
  15. ^ Phillips, Frank (2006-08-03). "Patrick says he quit The Fly Club in 1983: Nine exclusive clubs at Harvard limit membership to men. A gubernatorial candidate's link to one renews debate on elitism.". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original (online article) on 2006-08-03. Retrieved 11 May 2016. (subscription required)
  16. ^ Fahs, C. Ramsey (2016-01-29). "Divided Fox Club Opens With New Policies" (online article). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  17. ^ Delwiche, Noah J. (2015-09-11). "In Historic Move, Spee Club Invites Women To Punch: As final clubs face pressure, one male club moves to go co-ed" (online article). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  18. ^ Fahs, C. Ramsey (2016-05-06). "A Guide to Harvard's Relationship with Final Clubs: The Crimson gives a quick primer on the final clubs, institutions unique to Harvard, and the administration’s actions toward them over this tumultuous year." (online article). The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 11 May 2016. 
  19. ^ Harvard is dealing a huge blow to its secretive, male-only student clubs
  20. ^ Making a Movie?

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]