With Harvard University imposing stricter tailgating regulations for Saturday’s Game, Friday night festivities will test the extent of the Crimson’s party scene.
Even if Yalies cannot get into the sometimes private final clubs — the social groups at the heart of Harvard’s party scene — dorm parties and university-affiliated events are in place to make pre-Game festivities enjoyable for Cantabs and Elis alike.
Harvard’s final clubs will likely dominate Friday night’s campus social scene, where Greek life has a marginal presence, Harvard junior Aaron Geary said.
A centuries-old tradition, the eight all-male final clubs have mansions on campus where participants eat meals, hang out and, of course, host parties. Since 1984 the clubs have been private and not officially affiliated with the university, which is often “looking for reasons to shut them down,” according a Harvard freshman who wished to remain anonymous.
Cantabs estimated that between 10 and 20 percent of undergraduates are members of final clubs, for which sophomores and juniors are “punched” based on connections with past and current members, both family and friends. Unlike secret-society tapping at Yale, the punching process is “not very secretive at all,” said a Harvard junior and final club member; the student spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his privacy. “Everyone knows who’s in which club,” he said.
the party scene
While some final clubs tend to host private parties, the general rule is that anybody who knows somebody in a club can be admitted to its parties — at least for females.
“Definitely girls have a much better chance of getting into parties than guys for obvious reasons,” the junior said.
But Yale men need not put party plans on hold just yet. A Harvard senior and final club member said club members will “use discretion” at the doors on the night before the Game, acknowledging that Yalies, too, will be looking for a good time. The senior — who also wished to remain anonymous — said the Fly, the Fox and the Owl will likely host large parties Friday night. The Phoenix has a party planned for Saturday night, he said, although it is probable that a Friday night fête will take place there “ad hoc.”
While final clubs are traditionally an all-male scene, two all-female final clubs have formed within the last two decades. But, Geary said, female final clubs are not as prominent in Harvard’s party scene, and indeed only one, the Bee, has its own house.
Beyond the final clubs, Harvard’s 12 undergraduate houses — analogues to Yale’s residential colleges — will likely hold parties, Harvard junior Charlie Melvoin said. Some of the houses are clustered south of Harvard Yard, along the Charles River, while others are northwest of the Yard, around the Radcliffe Quadrangle. Yale residential colleges set up rooming for their students with sister houses at Harvard, so Yalies hoping to party may not have to trek far.
For Friday’s pre-Game festivities in general, according to the Harvard freshman, Yalies should be more cautious than usual about drinking.
“From what I’ve heard, Harvard is considerably stricter than Yale,” the student said.
After all, Harvard dorms are monitored by “proctors,” who are not undergraduates like Yale’s freshman counselors, but graduate students and college staff who act as resident assistants, the freshman explained. Still, the student added, enforcement of alcohol rules depends largely on the individual proctor. Proctors in the freshman dorms in Harvard Yard are notoriously stricter than those in the college’s 12 houses, the freshman said.
“Parties in rooms usually get broken up pretty quickly,” the anonymous junior added.
But for Yalies wishing to party worry-free, there are plenty of university-affiliated events throughout the weekend.
The First-Year Social Committee will host a free dance called “Get Your Game On” for both Yale and Harvard freshmen, committee representative Papa Chakravarthy said in an e-mail. In addition, several Yale a cappella groups will partner with Harvard groups for concerts Friday, as well as Saturday, when the Harvard-Yale Jamboree will feature the Spizzwinks (?), the Radcliffe Pitches and the Harvard Din & Tonics, said Ruvani Fonseka, a member of the Radcliffe Pitches.
Geary, the president of the Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Student Association, said the group will hold a non-denominational mixer, which he thinks will be a “legitimately good time.”
For the 21-and-over crowd, an independent group of Harvard students is hosting a guest list-only Harvard-Yale kickoff party at The Roxy in Cambridge, University Council president and Harvard senior Matt Sundquist said in an e-mail. The party will raise money for a nonprofit, and Yale and Harvard students and their guests can sign up to attend on the event’s Web site.
Although Friday night will boast numerous social options, Melvoin cautioned that by the time most Yale students arrive in Cambridge on Friday, Harvard students will have already started their weekends. There was a pep rally organized Thursday by the College Events Board, on which Melvoin serves. Students planned pre-game festivities as well as after-parties for the event, which required a Harvard ID for entrance, he said. With the return of alumni to campus for The Game, some students will also want to spend Friday night catching up with recent graduates, Melvoin added.
“Between the pep rally featuring Girl Talk on Thursday and then of course The Game on Saturday, that Friday is not going to be a really late night,” he said, explaining that students will likely be recovering from Thursday night and saving up energy for Saturday. As for Friday night, he predicted, “In general, it’s going to be relatively low-key.”
As one of last year’s Game T-shirts read, “Harvard: almost as fun as abstinence”? Your call, Yale.