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Critiquing the Campus Critic


To the Editors of the Crimson


That's the only word that can describe my reaction when I opened to the second page of the February seventh copy of the Crimson to be confronted by "campus critic" Matthew H. Joseph's "Spring Fever" commentary.

The prime target (again) was Harvard's final clubs. Enough already. Aren't we beating dead horses (and hogs, foxes, and owls)? Ever since I arrived at Harvard last September for the beginning of my freshman year I have been swamped by commentary after commentary, article after article and editorial after editorial about finals clubs.

Joseph begins his article by complaining that campus activists need "to regain popularity and inspire enthusiasm" by achieving "some tangible success on campus." Finals clubs, he reasons, "would serve as excellent targets for agitation" because they "exclude students because of gender and, more often than not, race, religion and lack of athletic ability."

Granted, final clubs do discriminate against women and minorities when it comes to admission. The University acted properly when it severed its ties with the clubs because of this attitude. The administration should further make it clear to the Hasty Pudding Club that offering honorary memberships to club presidents is also a violation of the same equal policy.

Mr. Joseph's solution? "Perhaps protesters could use some hit-and-run tactics to bring the issue of exclusivity to the forefront of public debate; activists could occupy a final club building and declare it the People's House." Whether this is an attempt at satire is indeterminable. One thing is certain, however; those who seem bent on either closing the final clubs or forcing them to admit women and minorities are attacking the foundations of the democratic ideals they want to protect.

Surely one of the cornerstones of democratic ideals is the right to assemble. One of the special virtues of our American society is that groups the majority does not necessarily believe in can still assemble. The Ku Klux Klan certainly discriminates against Blacks, Catholics, Jews and everyone else under the sun. But the beauty of our society rests in the ability of groups like the KKK or the American Communist to exist.

Another problem arises; many maintain that these clubs are still "on campus." They raise doubts about students "who feel that clubbies don't harm the rest of the campus by partitioning themselves off." Since when does Cambridge constitute Harvard property? These clubs are neither on University property nor University affiliated; they are not "on campus." Exactly how are the presence of final clubs in Cambridge hindering my education or life at Harvard?

And if activism means activism for its own sake, Mr. Joseph, as your commentary dangerously suggests, then it is best left alone. Pitting students against students is not the answer.

The issue is a democratic one. Whether the clubs ought to exist is one thing; whether or not they are "good" is another one altogether. It must seem a little ridiculous that organizations such as the KKK, the Spartacists, and finals clubs can all hide under the shield of democracy when they are so undemocratic, but that is part of what we sacrifice.

Oh, and by the way, Matt, your Rambo tactics wouldn't work anyway. Remember, they have Stallion on their side.

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