Women's Group Aims for More Social Spaces

The Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) will expand its efforts to improve women’s social life at Harvard beyond advocating admission of women to final clubs to include creating a social space for women and changing the administration’s relationship with final clubs, members decided in a meeting last night

“We managed to get an organized stance towards how we want to deal with the issue [of women’s social life on campus],” said RUS President Natalia Truszkowska ’04 about the meeting. “We managed to issue a variety of responses that are going to help students self-select into various committees.”

One response to RUS’s recently raised issue of women and social life that emerged from the meeting is that the RUS should not focus simply on making final clubs admit women.

“We can all agree that’s not feasible,” Truszkowska said.

However, Truszkowska said that RUS will continue to lobby for reform within the final clubs.

“Pushing for reform is as important as achieving it,” she said.

Jennifer Sternad, a member of RUS, said that the group should work to increase its understanding of final clubs.

“We could spend a lot of time running around in circles trying to get the final clubs to reform,” said Rebecca G.Watson ’04, another member of RUS. “We’ve hit upon this weakness that the Fly receives tax-exempt status because they say they don’t discriminate against women. We have to push the Fly to own up to their constitution.”

The final club the Fly recently was granted tax exempt status by the City of Cambridge even though it is an all-male club, and RUS members pondered at a meeting last week as to whether that meant women could join, or be punched for, the club.

Lisa C. Vogt, ’01-’02, former president of RUS, said the organization should encourage women to boycott final clubs and refuse to date final club members.

“As another point of pressure, talking to the graduate members and their wives would help make it a broad-based movement,” Vogt said. “You make it untenable for them to exist anymore.”

Members also advocated increasing awareness about final clubs through panels and forums with club members and female faculty.

“Instead of attacking final clubs it would be better to raise the social atmosphere of women,” Acacia B. Cormier ’05 said.

A women’s center is crucial to this mission, according to Sarah E. Tavel ’04, another member of RUS.

Tavel said that RUS should work on raising money and lobbying the University for a place where women’s groups could meet.

“I’m a big proponent for a women’s center, but I’m worried about asking for a women’s center when we don’t have a student center,” Tavel said.