Fly Club Votes to Admit Women

Graduate Board Approval Expected; Decision `Independent' of Boycott

In a decision which may signal the end of Harvard final clubs' single-sex tradition, undergraduate members of the Fly Club voted on Sunday to admit women, according to President Scott B. Logan `94.

The proposal, approved by a vote of 28-0 with one abstention, calls on the club's graduate board to allow the club to admit women this fall. Logan said he hopes that the Fly will be able to admit women in the fall punch, which begins October 8th.

The graduate board will meet next Wednesday to discuss the proposal and is expected to approve the measure sometime this year, members said.

Graduate approval, which is required by the club's by-laws, would make the Fly Club the first and only of the nine all-male final clubs to admit women.

Presidents of the Porcellian, the Phoenix S.K. and the Delphic clubs yesterday declined to comment on whether their clubs would take similar votes. The presidents of the Spee Club and the A.D. Club did not return telephone calls.

Fly members said their decision was independent of the movement started last week by Women Appealing for Change, a group of undergraduate women who are circulating petitions for a "friendly" boycott of final clubs.

"I think the boycott had the reverse effect," Logan said. "The last thing we wanted is to be forced to go co-ed. We wanted to do it for the right reasons, because it would make the club a better place and because it is the morally and philosophically right thing to do."

Logan said the decision "to break a 150-year tradition is indicative that this is something we feel very strongly about and I think it's also obvious that in breaking that tradition, we're not taking it lightly."

Fly members are not worried that the club's popularity among men will diminish. "The people we would want in the club would be of the same frame of mind and would support this," said James E. Bradner `94, who coordinated last year's "punch," the club's two-month membership selection process.

Logan said Fly officers discussed the topic considerably this summer, and took a preliminary vote of members on September 19 to decide if the vote should go before the entire membership.

He said members were concerned whether the move to go co-ed would have the approval of the graduate board, which supports the club financially.

"Inter-generational contact and support is important to us and we don't wish to cut ourselves off from it," he said. "It's not a move an institution like us can make with solely undergraduate support."

While there are no formal rules, Thomas said hethinks the graduate board will probably call for apoll of all 1,100 Fly graduates.

"Even if some graduates would rather that theclub did not admit women because it was single sexwhen we were there, I believe that they will stilldefer to the undergraduate's wishes," said Evan W.Thomas III '73, a graduate member who has beenasked by Fly Graduate President Eric Vogt '70 tospeak on the club's behalf.

Club History

The Fly Club has been single sex since it wasfounded in 1836, Logan said. The last vote toadmit women was taken in 1989. When members votedagainst it, the topic was not discussed againuntil the fall of 1991, he said.

In 1990 the Massachusetts Committee AgainstDiscrimination dismissed a controversialthree-year gender discrimination complaint filedagainst the Fly by Lisa J. Schkolnick '88 who saidshe was denied admission to the club because ofher sex.

Mass. Gov. William F. Weld `66, who was anundergraduate member of the Fly, wrote a one lineletter in 1987 urging the club to go co-ed,according to a Fly member. Spokespersons for Welddid not return repeated telephone calls yesterday.

WAC organizer Sarah E. Winters `95 praised theFly's decision.

"We give them full credit," she said. "Thedecision was one that was reached by the menthrough a lot of thought and discussion."

The boycott is still in effect because theother final clubs are still co-ed, she said, andorganizers are unsure at this point how the Fly'sdecision will affect WAC's plans.

Radcliffe Union of Students Co-PresidentDeborah J. Wexler `95 said, "I applaud theirdecision but I hope their decision signals areadiness to abandon other forms of discriminationas well."

"It will only be a step forward for women whenthe entire final club system has opened and endeddiscrimination," she said.

The Fly Club does not have limits on the numberof members it accepts, Logan said, and membershipis based solely on the "quality of prospectivemembers."

"Right now, our qualifications are regardlessof race, creed or religion. We also want it to beregardless of sex," Logan said.

And now that the moral issues at the club seemsettled, Logan said a few details still need to beresolved.

"We all had concerns about how practically towork out the nitty-gritty things like how to workthe restrooms and what we'd offer as analternative to the club tie," Logan said