The Annotations section is meant to convey a smattering of
impressions, written by Crimson editors, on a certain topic. Breadth,
then, is crucial to avoid giving the illusion of a consensus.
Annotations, in fact, are meant to disagree.
Yet the below impressions on final clubs are rather
one-sided. There is no club member writing. One could make a point of
questioning The Crimson’s diversity. But there are plenty of people
associated with the clubs within the paper. Did we under-solicit? Six
club members refused. One club had a no-press policy. Another felt that
200 words was inadequate to defend the clubs, a defense he felt
compelled to make. Others did not give reasons.
A pity about the veil of silence. The clubs unnecessarily forfeit their representation when they refuse to speak.
—Sahil K. Mahtani ’08
I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO WANT THAT
As of two weeks ago, my position on final clubs was supremely
clear. Although I’ve never seen the organizations as oppressive or
dastardly, I’ve also never been a fan. Extending privilege to some
while excluding others, the clubs make Harvard just that much less
comfortable for some of the College’s students.
But when I unexpectedly got punched last week, my certainty
crumbled. It’d be pretty cool, I suddenly found myself fantasizing, to
have a mansion at my disposal. And something reliably raucous to do
every weekend. And unparalleled job connections. Maybe final clubs
weren’t so bad after all.
Or maybe I was deluding myself. I was beginning to think in
the same self-justifying terms that have long reduced those within the
circle of privilege to writing off—and to leaving unchanged—the minor
injustices around them. I had astonished myself by my willingness to
toss out principled objections for the sake of self-advancement. Could
I really be so thoroughly spineless?
Ultimately, I chose not to take up the punch invitation. I
won’t try to cast this as a particularly heroic act—obviously, it
wasn’t. But my experience did convince me that principles and
privileges don’t mesh well, and that temptation—in my world, at
least—doesn’t tend toward the better of these two.
—Paul R. Katz ’09, a Crimson editorial editor, is a history and literature concentrator in Mather House.
I found myself, once again, in a crowded mass of well-dressed
girls, huddled outside of a final club. Yet, this day, I donned my cute
outfit (sans heels as we were instructed on the invitation), not to win
the attention of boys, but to impress the club officers whose judgment
sealed my fate.
Thrust into an environment that demanded we claw toward an
exalted few, genuine interest was a major casualty. With name tags and
routine attempts at small talk, we were asked questions about where we
Responding with “Manhattan” prompted real interest and
nostalgic talk of the city, the one they knew and loved. Any foreign
(read: European) city evoked exchange about summer memories or family
vacations. “California”—where I’m from—meant nothing if it did not
refer to a wealthy Los Angeles suburb—where I’m not from. “Michigan”
garnered nothing but a vacant nod and stare. The unfamiliar was simply
—Ramya Parthasarathy ’09, a Crimson editorial editor, is a social studies concentrator in Winthrop House.
THE FINAL EFFECT
Setting aside the broader effect of final clubs on
Harvard—dividing men into exclusive cliques and leaving women to seek
the approval of male door guardians perverts the social atmosphere on
campus—I’ll focus on the effect of clubs on their members.
Punches subject themselves to the whims of a social comp, a
degrading process where they prostrate themselves before perceived
social superiors, nakedly attempting to please others for acceptance.
Seeing sophomores and juniors become pathetically dependent on social
affirmation is a sad—albeit usually mercifully short-lived—sight.
Conversely, once they have become members, punches suddenly
find that the world revolves around them (or, rather, “The Club”).
Although there are exceptions, membership in an exclusive, privileged
group breeds a sense of entitlement. Just like going to Harvard leaves
graduates with notorious egos, many of the final club members I know
emerge (consciously or not) from the punch process with an unwarranted
sense of self-importance.
I honestly care very little about clubs either way, but I do
care about my friends, and I hope that they go through this process
fully aware of the likely consequences.
—Piotr C. Brzezinski ’07, a Crimson associate editorial chair, is a social studies concentrator in Winthrop House.
A BRIEF OUTING
It was the same kind of pristine October day we’ve been
enjoying for the past two weeks. Eighty-odd boys quietly mingled on the
back patio of some ancient, enormous North Shore estate, dressed in
suits at 10:30 in the morning. There wasn’t much to talk about, and it
was far too early.
I stood in a long line for a drink. Realistically, there were
two choices: orange juice and Rolling Rock. I asked the bartender for
the beer. We sat for a buffet lunch. Two club members populated our
table. More conversation about the weather. I stared downward as I
nursed the prime rib. And after lunch, we changed clothes for tackle
football on the lawn, or, if you preferred, croquet. I wandered over to
the creek and wondered which direction it was flowing.
A week later, I learned the next event was scheduled the same
night I had planned to attend a Halloween party with my friends. And
before I realized that the next white envelope would not be arriving,
the club and I had shaken hands and parted.
—Matthew S. Meisel ’07, a Crimson editorial chair, is a chemistry concentrator in Currier House.