Nikita Richardson
September 15, 2015 9:43 am

As it turns out, parts of Harvard are even more old-school than we thought.

Just this month, one of the Ivy League school’s final clubs — highly-exclusive social clubs that provide members with social fun and ample post-collegiate opportunities — decided that after 163 years, it was finally time to admit women to its all-male membership.

According to the New York Times, after a 31-year protest that saw the final club move off campus to avoid admitting women, the Spee Club began distributing invitations to illustrious female undergraduates last Friday, offering them admittance for the 2015-2016 school year. The Spee, founded in 1852, is one of eight all-male clubs, there are also five all-female clubs on campus. 

“There is a strong sense that it’s an idea whose time has come, given the role of women in the classroom and the world of work after Harvard,” Spee Club graduate board VP John Hanson told the New York Times. “It’s a 163-year-old organization. It has evolved over the decades and will continue to do so.”

To be honest, the Spee club, which counts John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy as former members, has often been thought of as one of Harvard’s more progressive all-male clubs. It was among the first of the school’s eight final clubs to admit Catholics, Jewish people, and black people. And now it’s the first to invite the opposite sex it join its ranks.

Still, as the Times points out, many students and faculty at the university feel it’s really time to discuss whether the school’s final clubs should even exist. After all, they function as an all-too-exclusive pipeline to privilege for only a select few students at the school of 21,000. 

“To have certain groups that can dispense privilege and advantage in very significant ways that exclude individuals from membership is very troubling,” said Harvard president Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust in an interview with The Harvard Crimson. “If we’re going to talk about reaching out beyond who we are, to embrace difference and discomfort ourselves and include people very different from ourselves in the lives we lead, and make a community that embraces the wide range of people here at the College, I think those ideals are sitting uneasily with the segregation of certain groups, the self-segregation of certain groups into final clubs.”

We will certainly be interested to see how this story unfolds.

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[Image via Shutterstock]

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