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AMID ALL THE "Storm the Bastille" hoopla that has surrounded the public opening of the Fly Club garden, a serious wrong has been committed against the members of the Fly Club. On a larger scale, a lack of appreciation has been displayed towards the final club as a campus institution.
By unlocking the gate to the Mt. Auburn St. green, the University hopes to maximize student happiness by spreading enjoyment of the garden among the entire community, rather than simply members of the Fly. Though a few students will take advantage of the opportunity to use the field, the small measure of pleasure gained will be negated by the substantial psychic pain inflicted upon members of the Fly, who must now share what was once exclusively theirs.
As Rousseau observed, the privileged among humankind "prize the things they enjoy only insofar as the others are deprived of them," and would cease to be happy if their social inferiors were granted equal enjoyment. If the University were attempting to increase the aggregate happiness of the entire community--regular students as well as Fly Club members--it has most assuredly failed.
ON ANOTHER LEVEL, the public opening of the green has released a spate of vindictive behavior toward the Fly Club, and final clubs in general. Last Friday, for example, Undergraduate Council Chairman Brian C. Offutt '87 "danced triumphantly in the garden," as though celebrating the ousting of a tyrant.
Through the final clubs, the University has found a harmless way to sequester and render harmless the antiegalitarian tendencies of a sizeable portion of its student body. Here at Harvard, we have a group of men with socially elitist attitudes forced to compete on a strictly meritocratic basis for grades and extra-curricular activities. Were such individuals denied a socially-accepted opportunity to exclude their fellow students on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, income, and family background, this proclivity would find expression in more mischievious ways.
Allowing the establishment of final clubs was a move that any social psychologist would have applauded; historians also. In 1815, the exhausted leaders of Europe dispensed with a similar threat to their society by "enthroning" Napoleon on the small island of Elba, and allowing him to reign there.
It's time, therefore, to stop this final club bashing and recognize all that we gain from the presence of these organizations. Concurrently, we should become more sensitive to the personal needs of their membership.
Even though we now can use the Fly Club garden, let's pretend that we can't Tomorrow, go stand outside the gates to the Mt. Auburn St. green and look in longingly. When members of the Fly are nearby, say things like "Gosh, I really wish I could use that exclusive field. It's just too bad I don't meet their stringent social qualifications."
Because if we can't get rid of them, at least we can humor them.
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