To the Editors of The Crimson:
If just for the sake of causing trouble, having fun and making enemies, I can't let your recent articles about the prospective Women's Club go by without taking a swing at such an institution and its masculine parent, the men's final clubs.
I'm not going to say that these ladies should can their idea of a social club, different strokes for different folks and all that, but I surely wish they'd cut out the self-delusion that moves them (and male clubbies) to try and get me to believe that their clubs are not, or will not be, elitist or socially exclusive. To quote from your article, it is hard to fathom the import of Dr. Chase Peterson's words. "Too few people are involved in final clubs to feel excluded if they were unable to join." This is a curious brand of Twist-O-Flex logic to say that a member of a majority group seeking access to a minority clique will not feel excluded if denied that access.
To say that the women are making an effort to get a large cross section of Radcliffe in their club is ignoring the reason they state as their basic need for a club, that is to steer away from the "fractured" nature of college life by providing a haven where girls of common interests can, in the lingo of liberation, unite. For to say they seek a large cross section of Cliffies by individually drawing up lists of twenty candidates for selection--who are they trying to kid? The final list will not represent a cross section of the female student body, but rather a list of common friends. Need I say that in all eventuality, their final list will be one of women with common interests and backgrounds, most likely from the East, educated in private schools, and whose families are well-off enough to support such luxuries as the socially oriented club such as these women envision.
The final club members devise a set of standards for consideration and admission into their social fraternity. If one does not meet these standards, he or she is simply not considered. I'll contend that this is social exclusivism and yes, a brand of elitism. To say that they are not as just a part of the Great Clubbie Whitewash. The clubs are, I believe, a type of escape hatch from the "fractured" nature of life in Cambridge. This is not an evil thing, it is natural to want to be with people with whom you've got a lot in common. Nonetheless, that clubs and their "MEMBERS ONLY" physical presence do tend to stratify the Harvard community on social standards of personal wealth, background, and education is not a positive thing. And I personally feel that if one person feels inferior because he or she was not asked to join a club, or if one person feels superior because he is a member of that clique and others are not, then clubs are an evil institution.
I could go on for days on the subject, but my point is not to advocate that clubs should be banned by an enlightened Administration or an aroused student body. That clubs lived through the late sixties amazes me, yet attests to their strength as an institution. They are needed, evidently. And I reckon these women need one too. To these undergraduates who thrill to fly in the stratosphere of high society, and whirl about in the expensive costume party of formal dinners, dances, and cocktail parties, final clubs are needed for a happy existence here. Everybody develops their own escape hatches from the weirdness at Harvard, whether they are institutionalized or not. Let them have their clubs ... some of my best friends belong to clubs and all that . . . but make them stop trying to tell me that they aren't elitist or socially exclusive. I'm glad that they feel guilty enough to manufacture the whitewashing job but I, as I stand outside their secretive and protective walls, am not buying it.
As for the Women's Club proposal . . . if they feel the need then its peachy to me, but I'd like to suggest that they are fooling no one by defending their club as non-elitist. Except themselves. Hovey Kemp '76
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