With a Streak of Pranks, Final Club Initiations Begin

David E. Stein

A student being initiated into the Phoenix Club washes a car on Mount Auburn Street yesterday. The club required new members to wash cars in Speedo’s despite the brisk December breeze.

Dropping temperatures couldn’t stop final club initiates from raising a ruckus on campus this week, as naked men scurried across the Yard, ladies decked in yellow and black buzzed into classrooms bearing honey, and scantily clad Speedo-wearers washed cars on Mt. Auburn Street.

Outrageous incidents like these marked the kick-off of initiations for Harvard’s male and female final clubs and at least one fraternity.

While the antics are adding a touch of color to the gray days of December, some students and professors view them as offensive and disruptive.

New final club members, mostly sophomores, were notified of their selection before Thanksgiving break, but most are not considered official members until they endure an integration process that runs the gamut from errands to embarassing stunts to more intense feats of physical and emotional strength.

The initiations differ greatly across the various male and female clubs, according to friends of the new recruits.


While some clubs require initiates to clean buildings or do favors for more senior members, others favor rituals involving alcohol or staying out in the freezing cold.

The length of the induction varies as well.

And while some clubs have already started the grueling process, others will wait until after the New Year.

The clubs aim to be secretive, however, about the exact details of the process.

Most initiates and club members contacted for this article declined comment.

The initiates and their antics are getting quite a mixed reaction from students and professors alike.

Some Harvard women say they love the scantily clad men and ridiculous costumes.

Maya Z. Saalouke ’07 said almost 20 girls flocked to her room this week, in anxious anticipation of a performance by 10 topless Delphic members.

“I thought it was great. The girls all had fun and it was a good break on a Wednesday night. They’re all really nice guys,” she said.

And upper-class ladies are reaping the benefits of initiation as well.