A long-standing disparity involving these male-only final clubs is that they leave half the student body without a comparable social space of their own. As a result, if women want a place to go after bars close and parties end, they are forced to feel like perpetual guests in clubs to which they could never belong. This leads to an unequal social dynamic between the male members of the club and the females who are present only by permission of their male colleagues. These private clubs are not officially recognized by the University—even if they wanted to, they would not meet Harvard’s anti-discrimination rules. And because of Harvard’s extensive land holdings, only the University would be able to provide a Harvard Square social space equivalent for women. Without any other options, the situation perpetuates gender inequality against women at the College.
But the inherent inadequacies of final clubs and their gender inequality belie a greater campus problem. Harvard undergraduates—both women and men—need more social space after hours. Strict party shutdowns and early bar closings leave students who enjoy staying out late on weekends—and weekdays—few options for places to go. The overly crowded state of the Quincy Grille after Cambridge’s 2 a.m. shutdown is indicative of Harvard’s general lack of alternative venues for late night socializing.
Students should not feel compelled to join a club, or frequent them, just to maintain a social life. The University must recognize the demand for a safe, gender neutral student center that can provide a late-night alternative to final clubs to ensure that everyone at Harvard, not just a select, privileged few, have access to social space.