What Crisis?

Don’t act so surprised—the Isis’ ‘punch book’ didn’t reveal anything new


The exposure of the Isis Club’s e-mail archives hardly warrants a declaration of crisis. Last I checked, a crisis was a serious and very pressing problem that demands immediate attention—and honestly, what have we really learned from the Isis emails that calls for such concern? That girls sit around and talk about one another? Someone please alert the New York Times.

For all of the insipid chin-stroking and pontificating over these past few days about final clubs and their elitism, one would think it was a new problem. Alas, final clubs in general have been operating more or less under the same system from the eighteenth century right up until the twenty-first, with female final clubs folding right in to the tradition as they’re formed. People have been making the same trite observations about them for just as long: “They’re too exclusive,” or “the selection process is too arbitrary,” or “they monopolize too much of campus social life, social space”—and the list of grievances goes on. Yet shockingly, people are treating the Isis emails as if they constitute some sort of scandal, when in fact all they’ve done is confirm what everyone essentially already knew.

And honestly, just what is the big deal anyway? Particularly with the female final clubs—whose focuses seem to be primarily social—it’s hard to imagine how the selection process could appear anything but arbitrary. It simply mirrors the way most individuals choose their friends: who seems sweet or nice, who rubs us the right or wrong way, basically whoever we “click” with. Unless other people have some sort of “meritocracy” system I don’t know about by which they decide with whom to hang out, the only difference here is that the internal, private process we all use is being exercised in group form (and in this case, in public).

It’s unclear to me why this is all so offensive to some people, and it’s even more bewildering to try to figure out the logic that has led people to focus such an obscene amount of attention on these e-mails—there’s a fine line between acknowledging confirmation of widely held thoughts and just being redundant and stale.

Perhaps it has just been a particularly uneventful time on campus lately, but is there really nothing else for us to spend our time and energy being concerned about? Isn’t there a huge hurricane ripping through Mexico and the Southeast right now? Aren’t there a whole host of political problems—major nominations and indictments—for us to philosophize about? Didn’t Katie Holmes just announce she’s having a baby with Tom Cruise?

All right, maybe that last one doesn’t merit too much attention either—but anything would be better than listening to people repeat the same things about final clubs, year after year, punch season after punch season, ad infinitum. So from now on, when any new final club “news” arises, let’s just give it a quick nod and keep on stepping—at least until someone finds something new to say.

Ashton R. Lattimore ’08, a Crimson editorial editor, is an English concentrator in Dunster House.