Parties on the first weekend after spring break are notoriously wild, and the Pi Eta Speakers Club's Saturday night bash was no exception. Music blared out the windows. Women streamed in, as many as a dozen at a time. Most were from all-female colleges, but a handful were from Harvard.
During the course of the night, police asked the club to turn down its music and an intoxicated woman was carried to the door. Two women identifying themselves as high school students emerged from the party.
Club members interviewed outside the late-night bash echoed several points. The club has gotten a bad reputation as a result of inaccurate media coverage, they said. They also claimed that people look down on Pi Eta because it is not one of the nine "true" final clubs.
Others said that people unfairly saddle the club's present membership with problems that occurred at the Pi Eta before they even came to Harvard.
"I think the club is misrepresented. We've gotten a lot of bad publicity," said Jeffrey Wood '93, an officer-at-large of the club.
"There are a lot of myths. Its a place where guys get together and have a good time," said member David W. Son '91.
All of the members and nearly all of the women interviewed said they had no personal knowledge of any mistreatment of women attending Pi Eta Club parties.
"That's a myth. Nobody gets abused here," said Son.
Mary McCall, a sophomore at Pine Manor College who said she goes to the Pi "four nights out of seven," said her experiences at the club have been positive ones.
"I consider the Pi a very exciting place and I've never encountered any bad incidents," she said.
Indeed, the night's events resembled those one might find at many Harvard parties or in any social club here. Yet recent allegations of sexual misconduct at the club continue to plague its reputation.
Earlier this month, the club settled a lawsuit brought by a former Northeastern University student who claimed she was raped at the club in 1988.
"As far as reputation goes, the rape case doesn't help," Wood said, adding that alumni had not informed the undergraduates about the settlement before it appeared in The Crimson. He said that he wished the case had gone to trial so that the facts surrounding the alleged rape could have been publicly established.
The incident "took place in 1988, when two-thirds of the people here were not members. The reputation that we get is from people that haven't been here for a long time. The case has nothing to do with us," said Barry G. Littman '91, a former president of the club.
"I do not think that anything done at the Pi Eta Speakers Club is solely characteristic of our organization," said Brian H. Murphy '92.