A Tale of Two Final Clubs

Harvard students and administrators must find more effective ways of combating issues of exclusivity and discrimination.

Last week, The Crimson reported that the Bee and Delphic Clubs will share both membership and a physical space, potentially in response to the Harvard administration’s sanctions on single-gender social organizations. Harvard’s chapter of Kappa Sigma also recently announced their plans to disaffiliate from their national group and become a co-ed organization. These recent decisions raise anew perennial questions about exclusivity and elitism on this campus, compelling us to again query whether merely going co-ed is enough to combat inequality or if further action is needed.

Despite all of the fanfare accompanying the first male and female final club union, becoming co-ed is the bare minimum needed to combat the inequality upon which institutions like final clubs lie. The clubs that have done so should not necessarily be congratulated for it. A transition to gender inclusivity does not guarantee that other forms of discrimination will be addressed. The issues of sexual assault that have plagued these clubs are not guaranteed to be solved by these decisions either. Perhaps most significantly, the class elitism that these groups perpetuate through their social events and policies constitutes a barrier to a considerable portion of the student body. None of these glaring problems will be resolved by clubs simply going quasi-co-ed.

The Bee and Delphic merger suggests that going co-ed is acceptable only if members of both genders have the requisite money, connections, and social capital needed to maintain their historic inequality. Final clubs must do more to fix their imbalances of power and not merely pay lip-service by going co-ed to address the sanctions. While we acknowledge these efforts, including the Fox’s short-lived attempt to go gender-neutral, gender is not the only way in which these groups discriminate.

But while these social organizations attempt to become more inclusive for Harvard’s sake, we must remain cognizant that one of Harvard’s ultimate goals is to shift social life away from unsanctioned spaces to the Houses. To accomplish this, however, the College must make party and social spaces more accessible to students. As we have previously opined, there is a serious deficit of such locations on campus, and of those Houses that do have them, many have byzantine, cost-prohibitive processes to reserve them. There must be a greater push from the College and the House administrators to fix this and provide students with more accessible social outlets.

The choice of some final clubs to go co-ed in response to the sanctions is an unsurprising move, but ultimately one that will do little to combat the myriad ways in which these groups discriminate. Administrators and students alike must keep in mind that only with tangible adjustments to Harvard’s social structure will we finally see welcome changes towards inclusivity.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.

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