Fly Places Tradition On Trial at Clubs

More than a hundred years of all-male tradition may end this year if, as expected, the Fly Club's graduate board approves the undergraduate's recent decision to admit women to the all-male final club.

Many members of the Harvard community hope that the Fly's move will lead to similar decisions by the other eight clubs. Others believe that even if all the clubs vote to go co-ed, it would only be the first step in reforming a system they say is still elitist in nature.

"Sex discrimination is not acceptable and finally Fly Club members have realized this," said Radcliffe Union of Student's Co-president Maura H. Swann '95.

"But the struggle to end all types of oppression is much larger than the scope of Women Appealing for Change [a newly formed undergraduate group asking clubs to admit women]. Therefore I am not and would not be satisfied with the clubs' move simply to go co-ed," she said.

For the administration, the Fly Club's decision to admit women would be sufficient cause to reconsider the organization for official University recognition, which was withdrawn almost a decade ago because of the final clubs' single-sex status.


"The College has long argued that women should be treated as equal members of Harvard," said Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III in an interview yesterday.

"If they apply for recognition we would give them very sympathetic consideration," Epps said.

Dean of the College Fred L. Jewett `57 said the University will consider official recognition of the Fly as long as there are no club rules discriminating on the basis of sex, race, religion, gender, or national origin.

"There isn't anything in our rules or guidelines saying that a club can't be selective of its members," Jewett said.

"People can have a social club where the members are their friends," he said.

While the decision of the Fly's undergraduatesis contingent upon approval of the graduate board,a Fly Club member interviewed yesterday said hethought the majority of the club's graduatemembers would support the undergraduates' proposalto admit women.

He said most graduate Fly members polledrecently by club officers said they approved ofthe plan.

A graduate of the Delphic, A. Clinton Allen '67said he strongly supports the Fly's decision andhas previously urged Delphic members to admitwomen to the club. "The clubs are part of thefabric of the University and since the Universityis co-ed, the clubs should be co-ed."

Most of the final clubs were established by theturn of the century. When women moved into Harvarddorms in 1970, the nine clubs remained all-male.

Though some graduates are reluctant to seetheir clubs change from the way they were whenthey were undergraduates, Allen, who voiced hisopinion in response to a request for money duringa Delphic fundraising event, said that having twodaughters at Harvard had changed his opinion.

"I would find it very hard to support anyorganization that wouldn't let my daughters in,"he said.

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