Standing on the brink of progress (or at least of the 20th century), the Fly Club faltered--and then displayed its true, unflattering colors.
The all-male final club's undergraduate and graduate members last year tentatively approved extending membership to women. But this year, in a vote that included all of its new members, the club rejected the reform. A reactionary lot the new Flys turned out to be. The club's graduate board, of course, set the stage for the turnaround, paving the way for this new vote by postponing a final decision last year.
Worse even than the club's decision was the manner in which it was defended by Fly President Robert M. Carlock '95. On the one hand, Carlock went so far as to say, "If we were the first [to admit women], we would have a monopoly on the female population [on campus]." Such pure motivations!
On the other hand, Carlock added, "What women would enjoy a community that is mixed about their presence?" Apparently, Carlock missed the Civil Rights Movement.
This decision by the Fly, while disappointing, hasn't caused a widespread furor in the Harvard community for a simple reason: Most people have long since written off the Fly and its brethren final clubs, considering them nothing more than a stomping ground for up-and-coming elitists.
A few, though, have reacted more strongly. Women Appealing for Change (WAC), the undergraduate group formed last year to boycott the final clubs until they admit women, issued the following incensed, if slightly hyperbolic statement: "This decision is an embarrassment to the student body and the alumni of Harvard-Radcliffe and undermines the values which Harvard is supposed to represent."
While we can't quite work up the anger that WAC (A.K.A. Women Appealing for A Chance to Be Elitist) musters, they are headed in the right direction.
The Fly's decision strangled a move that, while not ground breaking on its own, might have been the first step in a move toward more open, egalitarian clubs.
So ends the Fly's brief reign as the dim light of equality in the den of elitism. Had the club finally admitted women, at least the stain of sexism could have been removed from its elitist fabric. Now, both remain.