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Upon our return to the on-campus scene, our student body has seen — or at least heard — the reawakening of an equally old and exclusive fixture of Harvard’s campus: the final clubs. It is a relatively new, all-female club, however, that has been stirring up quite the buzz.
We have long maintained, and continue to maintain, that Harvard’s final clubs are a destructive force in the College’s social environment. Their elitism balkanizes our community, they monopolize off-campus social spaces, and they contribute significantly to the problem of sexual assault on campus. In the College’s 2015 sexual climate survey, nearly half of female College seniors who participated in final club life reported experiencing non-consensual sexual contact since entering Harvard, the highest of any survey subgroup.
This isn’t the first time we’ve expressed our concern over these trends, and it likely won’t be the last, as final clubs withstood both College sanctions and the financial effects of the pandemic. In retrospect, this was not surprising: Eight male final clubs are propped up by a combined $43,000,000 worth of property in Harvard Square. But in this fact alone lies the nuanced difference between male and female social clubs we’ve mentioned in the past. As long as these all-male clubs gate-keep physical off-campus social spaces and set the rules within them, there will exist a power dynamic that is, quite frankly, dangerous to College women.
For this reason, we cautiously welcome the news that the Bee Club — an all-female final club — will once again have its own clubhouse in Harvard Square.
To be sure, the hefty $2.2 million purchase of this building, which formerly housed the beloved Café Pamplona, by a current College student is a jarring reminder of the cutting wealth disparities between students on our campus. We hope that this pricey acquisition does not make low-income students doubt their belonging in Harvard’s inane social scene.
But even more so, the purchase quite literally demonstrates the price that women have to pay to gain access to social spaces that are even remotely comparable to those that men have enjoyed for decades. To that end, we are hopeful that the Bee’s flight to Harvard Square will make what we consider to be a bad social system slightly better. The women of the Bee and the social club scene are now one step closer to safer, more equal footing.
To the Bee and all other final clubs looking to create some positive buzz: We hope that your new hive serves you well, and implore that you take this moment to act as responsible leaders by creating a space that is safe and inclusive to marginalized identities. Invest not only in a clubhouse, but in a precedent of taking everyone — regardless of their income level, identity, or background — under your wing.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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