UC Spotlights Final Clubs

Council hosts discussion on social space

Members of a group critical of final clubs presented its statement of purpose at last night’s Undergraduate Council meeting in the hopes of spurring discussion among UC members about the funding and availability of alternative social spaces.

According to the statement, the campaign is alarmed by what it characterizes as the discriminatory nature of Harvard’s social landscape and believes that social space on campus should be more inclusive and accessible.

In addition, the campaign seeks to provide undergraduate students with more information concerning final clubs. It also encourages the administration to be more transparent in terms of its stance on final clubs, as well as the actions it is taking to create safe, more inclusive alternatives.

“We are not an anti-final club campaign,” said Camille S. Owens ’13, a member of the campaign’s leadership team, who presented the statement at the UC meeting. “We have come to realize there are much deeper problems.”

“Final clubs are a part of this,” added Jason Q. Berkenfeld ’11, another member of the leadership team, “but at the end of the day, it is really about the fact that Harvard students don’t have enough space to socialize.”

In order to address this problem, the campaign proposed a number of measures that will require coordination across all realms of campus life.

Collaboration with the UC is already underway.

“We know that the UC does a lot of work around social space,” Owens said. “So we just want to talk about funding for student-initiated parties and opening up other spaces.”

UC President Senan Ebrahim ’12 commended the work of the campaign, saying that it “has really made some waves on campus over the past semester.”

“I thought it would be important for members of the Council, who care about the well-being of the campus, to hear from them because the work they are doing to institutionalize the campaign is crucial,” he said.

According to Owens, members of the campaign have also been busy establishing relationships with House Masters and discussing alternative spaces they would potentially be willing to open up.

Collaboration with the College administration has also been a crucial aspect for the campaign as they push forward. According to Owens, members of the campaign met with Dean of Student Life Suzy M. Nelson several times last semester to discuss the issue and potential solutions.

“In the end, what we have realized is that there is common ground on this issue,” Owens said. “In a lot of ways, we have so much in common with final clubs, and they share similar sentiments that there is not enough social space or alternatives available to students.”

Berkenfeld added that, as the campaign moves forward, members have been working to institutionalize the campaign.

“Time and time again, a similar movement will rise and then fade out,” he said. “We want to institutionalize this campaign so that it doesn’t disappear when we graduate.”

—Staff writer Rachael E. Apfel can be reached at rachaelapfel@college.harvard.edu.

This article has been corrected to reflect the following correction.

CORRECTION: FEB. 22, 2011

The Feb. 22 article "Final Clubs Come Under Spotlight" labeled an organization critical of final clubs as "anti-final club." The organization seeks to foster dialogue about social spaces on campus but is not explicitly anti-final club.

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