To many students, the Hasty Pudding Club conjures up images of wealthy prep school graduates cradling wine glasses and trading compliments about each others' parents.
The Pudding's status as Harvard's oldest social club lends itself to this image. Many believe the club has not escaped its legacy of snobbery, and that its member selection process reflects a spirit of superiority that runs rampant in the Pudding.
Indeed, it is difficult for a visitor to 10 Holyoke St. to avoid this conclusion.
Upon entering the club's Member's Lounge, one immediately notices the ancient decor. The wood paneling recalls "the olde days," and antique posters and yellowed photographs of past members grace the walls. A large sign hangs on the stairway landing, boasting the number of U.S. presidents who are former members, from John Adams to John F. Kennedy '40.
If Eliot House is more Harvard than Harvard, the Hasty Pudding is more Eliot than Eliot House.
It's a reputation that club president Gabriella C. Petschek '92 isn't proud of. She says it's outdated and that the club has been trying valiantly "to create a fun, non-discriminatory environment."
Petschek says the club is fighting to reverse the stereotype that has formed over the years, adding that the "aims" of the club have changed enormously during the past three years.
"We are seeking to broaden the diversity of the members," she says, adding that the club has experimented with community service projects.
Petschek and vice president Alexandra L. Fuhrmann '92 acknowledge that the club's reputation as a bastion of elitism is one that held true until recent years.
At its founding as an all-male secret society in 1795, the Pudding embodied elitism and discrimination.
As the theatrical society became more serious about its productions, a schism evolved between the professional members and the members who just wanted to have fun.
Eventually, in the early 1970s, the society split, and the club became a distinct entity and expanded its membership to include women.
To this day, the feeling of an ancient network beneath the surface of campus life exists at the club.
The club--which has 225 members--has ambiguous links with the Hasty Pudding Theatricals as well as with two a capella groups, the Harvard Krokodiloes and the Radcliffe Pitches.
The Hasty Pudding Theatricals--an undergraduate theater company that produces a celebrated show each year--coexists in the Holyoke Street building with the club.