The Fox Club, one of eight historically men-only undergraduate social clubs at Harvard College, says it has accepted nine women for the first time this year in a marked thaw to its generations-old tradition of gender-based exclusivity.
Such institutions are called “final clubs” because they are the last club a person can join before graduating. They’ve existed since the 19th century after Harvard placed a ban on fraternities.
“This has been a long decision-making process, which has been discussed since September of last year amongst the undergraduates,” Fox Club president Daniel Skarzynski wrote in an email, according to the Boston Globe. “The decision to take concrete action was formalized by a series of undergraduate votes earlier this academic year.”
Skarzynski told the paper that, despite the clubs’ independence from the administration, the school made it clear to them that they wanted help fostering a more inclusive social environment on campus. Harvard College dean Rakesh Khurana said in a statement that the Fox Club’s “decision contributes to strengthening the inclusive and diverse community the college and our students are seeking to create.”
According to the Harvard Crimson, some club members have since publicly complained that they feel forced to make the changes by the university.
Its not the first time that the school has pushed for the clubs to accept female members — in 1984, school administrators cut official ties with the final clubs after they refused to accommodate women.
In September, another one of these exclusive groups, the Spee Club, announced that they would also accept women into their “punch” process, similar to a fraternity and sorority rush, for the first time.