Exclusive, men-only Harvard club breaks its 225-year silence and hits back at scathing university report on sexual assault

Recently, Harvard’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention excoriated exclusive final clubs for their “deeply misogynistic attitudes.”

Now, Porcellian Club, the oldest, is hitting back and breaking a 225-year silence to do so, The Harvard Crimson reported.

The task force report condemned the exclusive, mostly male-only social clubs for creating an unsafe campus, and it called for barring students from them or forcing them to become co-ed.

The task force wrote that 47% of female students who participated in final clubs or attended their parties reported “experiencing nonconsensual sexual contact since entering college.”

Despite its longstanding history of silence, Porcellian spoke out against the report by way of letter sent to the Harvard Crimson by Porcellian board president Charles M. Storey ’82.

Storey began his letter by saying to the best of his knowledge it was the first on record statement since the club’s founding in 1791 (the Crimson noted that there was one other short comment in 1984).

His letter charged that Porcellian “is being used as a scapegoat for the sexual assault problem at Harvard despite its policies to help avoid the potential for sexual assault,” according to the Crimson.

He also took issue with the university’s attempt to dictate the way organisations on campus are run. “I sincerely hope that the administration will not set the precedent of creating a ‘blacklist’ of organisations that students cannot join,” he wrote. “Such McCarthyism is a dangerous road that would be a blow to academic freedom, the spirit of tolerance, and the long tradition of free association on campus.”

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A statue in Harvard Square. Flickr / Wally Gobetz

Two male-only clubs — Spee Club and Fox Club — have already conceded to university pressure and have allowed female membership, though in the case of Fox Club, female membership is still on a “provisional” basis.

Spee Club came under scrutiny last year when it sent a party invitation that linked to a video of women wearing underwear and models walking a runway.

Dean of Harvard College, Rakesh Khurana, called the invitation ” offensive, crude, and sexist,” according to the Crimson.

But Storey decried being lumped into the same category as final clubs that may have had instances of sexual misconduct or misogyny.

“No allegation of sexual assault has ever been made against the Porcellian Club,” he wrote, before adding, “sexual misconduct is absolutely unacceptable in all its forms but it is not an issue at the Porcellian Club.”

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