Are All Final Club Members Really White and Rich? Our Survey Says No.
With punch season now in full swing, it’s time to present the results of Flyby’s first-ever Final Club Survey. The online survey was emailed out last month to 4,838 sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and was partially or fully completed 1,927 times (though it should be noted that individuals could have taken the survey more than once). In the second installment of a six-part series on the survey results, we take a look at the demographics of the self-identified final club members who answered our questions.
Whether or not they’re in a final club or only entered the Owl once to use the bathroom, most Harvard students are familiar with the stereotype of the final club bro.
They’re supposedly white, straight, rich, legacy varsity athletes—but do these stereotypes actually hold up to scrutiny?
The results served up only a few curveballs.
When asked about their final club membership status, 21 percent of survey respondents said they currently belong to a final club, 7 percent said they previously belonged to a club but have since left, 30 percent said they have been punched but did not or have not yet joined a club, and 42 percent said they have never been punched by a club.
For the purposes of our analysis, the answers of respondents who identified as current final club members were then compared to those of respondents who said they have never been punched by a club.
Respondents who identified as current members of a final club were more likely than respondents of any other club membership status to say they are white. Seventy percent of final club members identified as white, compared to 63 percent of respondents who said they were never punched by a final club.
Final club members were also more likely than respondents of any other club membership status to say they are heterosexual. Ninety-five percent of respondents who said they belong to a final club identified as heterosexual, compared to 87 percent of those who said they had never been punched by a club.
VARSITY ATHLETE STATUS
People who said they are currently in final clubs were more likely to identify as current or former varsity athletes by a large margin: 44 percent of self-reported club members said they are or were varsity athletes, compared to 16 percent of respondents who said they had never been punched.
Final club members are apparently more likely to be legacies than those who aren’t. Twenty-four percent of respondents who said they are in final clubs reported that one or both of their parents had attended Harvard College, compared to just 13 percent among those who said they had not been punched.
FAMILY INCOME LEVEL
Wealthy students also appear to be disproportionately represented in final clubs. And while 26 percent of those respondents who indicated that they are current final club members reported a combined parental income of more than $500,000 a year, only 11 percent of respondents who said they had never been punched said they were within the highest combined parental income bracket.
RE-EXAMINING THE STEREOTYPES
But look a little closer, and the stereotypes break down, if only a little bit.
Not all final club members are white. Black and African-American respondents, for example, disproportionately reported being current members of a final club. Respondents who said they were Asian or Hispanic/Latino, however, were under-represented among current final club members. Among survey respondents who identified as current final club members, African-Americans formed the largest minority group, representing 14 percent of the group, while Hispanics/Latinos and Asians trailed with 8 and 7 percent, respectively.
In comparison, Harvard-reported data shows that African-Americans make up 11 percent of the Class of 2017, while Asian-Americans and Hispanics/Latinos make up 20 and 12 percent respectively. (Members of the Class of 2017 were not polled in Flyby’s final club survey.)
Finally, not all club members are rich, either. Forty-four percent of self-identified final club members reported that they receive financial aid from the College and 21 percent reported a combined parental income of less than $80,000 a year.
Responses to our survey suggested that final club members are disproportionately white, straight, and wealthy. They’re also apparently more likely than their peers who have never been punched to be legacies or to play (or have played) a varsity sport at Harvard. But not all the stereotypes seem to hold up: African-Americans were disproportionately represented among self-identified final club members who responded to our survey, and almost half of responding final club members said they are on Harvard financial aid.