According to an opinion piece in The Harvard Crimson, while the final clubs occupy “huge physical and imaginary spaces at the center of campus“, they are completely unaccountable to the University’s anti-discrimination and social justice standards, foster "de facto sexual violence" and racism, use women as “props in male-dominated spaces”. A number of policies have been adopted by the University to discourage students from joining single-gender social clubs, which in their turn are suing Harvard for spreading negative stereotypes about their members.
Final clubs are like fraternities, only much fancier, with taxidermy bears, first-edition novels in wood-paneled libraries and placards memorializing “our brothers” who died in the Civil War. Boys in final clubs actually wear suits and ties to dinner.
A former female student wrote: “women at Harvard really do wait in tiny dresses outside ominous front doors on cold evenings to be ushered in, enduring endless once-overs in order to play in a certain sphere of the university’s social scene...”
“A few weeks ago, I get to the door of the Spee and this kid outside goes, “Oh, you’re not on the list. Is there a member you could call?” And I’m like, “First of all, I’ve been here for four years. Why am I still doing this? Second, honestly, I sit across from you in section, dude.”
Here are a few of the most prestigious final clubs:
Founded in 1791, the club does not allow nonmembers beyond the bike room. Members have included Teddy Roosevelt and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin internet entrepreneurs portrayed in The Social Network.
Bill Gates is a former member of the 119-year-old club. It’s “where the nicest guys and the most professionally ambitious belong.”
Punch season begins in September and lasts until the annual Harvard-Yale game in November. For a club’s first event, around 200 sophomores are invited to a cocktail party. After that, the list is cut to around 50. According to a former member, “the next event is typically a date event at a castle in Newport, Rhode Island. You put on a coat and tie and get bused down there with your date”. Thirty punches are brought to a final dinner at the club, and 10 or 20 of them become club members. Some clubs even fly prospective members out for all-expense-paid trips to New York City or Los Angeles. “We want the coolest kids on campus to be in our club.”