The surreptitious visitors, Jane McNamara Kelly ’79, Janice L. Pelletier ’79, Carol M. Imm ’80, Mary Anne Z. Kocur ’81 and four unidentified others, arrived sporting tuxedos and three-piece suits, invited by D.U. members R. Stewart Shofner ’79 and Stephen A. Kowal ’79.
With his Instamatic camera, Kowal snapped pictures of the women as they arrived at the club door.
“I think final clubs have been personally insulting women for the last 100 years. Hopefully people two years from now will take my actions further and admit women to the club,” Shofner told The Crimson in 1978, explaining why he decided to enter the women into punch, the process of admittance to final clubs.
Kowal added, “I think women will be admitted soon, and when they are, it will be an excellent thing.”
Kowal’s prediction, 25 years later, has proved to be wrong. While the D.U. Club has changed, merging with the The Fly Club in the late 1980’s, final clubs as a whole have remained relatively the same: all-male and exclusive.
In recalling that October night in the fall semester of their senior year, the parties involved in the prank share divergent stories. But while their accounts of responsibility for the prank differ, they agree the joke had a serious edge.
“We didn’t do it completely to goose people,” Kowal now says, but rather to “lampoon the old, foolish ways. We wanted to have a good laugh, while still making a serious point.”
FOOT IN THE DOOR
After joining the club as a sophomore, Shofner says he had the unpleasant experience of “finding out my colleagues were a little more sexist than I’d hoped.”
The club, he says, had a reputation for being more liberal than other final clubs such as the Porcellian or the Spee Club, accepting African-American and Hispanic members at a time when no other clubs were doing so.
But Shofner recalls an incident at his sophomore initiation dinner during which all the punches to the club had to stand up and tell racist and sexist jokes. Shofner says he felt “disappointed” that young men were being trained to make sexist jokes in front of women who were present as servers at the dinner.
In planning the 1978 prank, Shofner says he was inspired by a stunt pulled by a older club member, who dressed in drag at a D.U. senior event and by doing so, angered the alumni present.
While Shofner characterizes himself as the sole architect of the prank, Kowal says he was also involved in the planning.
At the time, Kowal says he thought that out of all the final clubs, the D.U. Club, which he describes as “run-down, beat-up and about to go bankrupt,” was “the place where we could get away with [punching women into the club].”
Kowal likens the club atmosphere to that of Revenge of the Nerds.