Some Yale seniors were caught off guard this year when they learned that Feb Club, a student-run organization that throws parties for seniors every night of February, operates at a tidy profit.
Feb Club, a series of 28 parties from Feb. 1 to the end of the month for which seniors pay $25 to $28, this year raised roughly $17,000 from Yale seniors. And while some Feb Club participants interviewed by the News said they enjoyed the month of festivities, others expressed frustration about the lack of alcohol at some parties despite the group’s large budget. Feb Club did not inform participants that around $5,000, or roughly 30 percent, of the money raised would not be spent on parties, but rather compensate the three seniors who ran the club this year and the secret society to which they belong, the Desmos Society, according to one of the Feb Club organizers and two other students with knowledge of the situation.
Multiple participants in Feb Club interviewed for this article said they did not know the names of the three student organizers of Feb Club. One of the organizers agreed to speak to the News on behalf of the group, but only on the condition of anonymity. She confirmed that the organizers pocketed $5,000 from the seniors who participated and declined to name the other two organizers. She also said that, as far as she knows, it is standard practice for Feb Club organizers to take a cut of the budget.
The organizer justified the group’s decision to keep $5,000 for themselves and their society, saying the organizers spent around 200 hours throughout February planning parties, which prevented some of them from doing campus jobs. At one point, she said, she had to carry a 30-pound box of alcohol from Pierson College to the Sig Nu fraternity on High Street during a sleet storm without an umbrella.
Nick Dell Isola ’18 told the News that when he initially signed up for Feb Club, he assumed the group was affiliated with the Senior College Council and that excess funds would go toward other Senior Class Council events. When he contacted a Feb Club email account on the last day of February asking about excess funds, however, the answer he received left him concerned.
“Once we have covered all of our necessary expenses and any unforeseen costs incurred over the course of our 28 days together, the remaining money is going back to the very people who have made this month possible,” the response from Feb Club said. “But we do want to emphasize that paying our organizers is at the absolute bottom on our list of prioritized spending — Feb Club is not a profit-based endeavor. Our priority is, and always has been, the benefit of the senior class, and the vast vast majority of our funds have been allocated accordingly.”
One unforeseen cost that Feb Club faced this year stemmed from an incident in which a partygoer punched a hole in the wall of the Baker’s Dozen house during a party, the organizer said. According to the organizer, other unanticipated costs stemmed from more people showing up at bars on certain nights and from the question of how many gifts the organizers would have to buy for “All-Stars” — the title given to seniors who attend every Feb Club party and fulfill special tasks.
Dell Isola told the News that his main frustration with Feb Club was that many parties featured only a few bottles of cheap alcohol. Anna Piwowar ’18 said Feb Club could have benefited from a more “diverse spread” of different types of parties, calling the alcohol and snacks provided at events “mostly uninspired, though sufficient.” She said she was surprised by how much money Feb Club raised to host the events, saying “it was not reflected in the events themselves.”
Still, while many Feb Club parties ended up being hosted in residential college suites and off-campus apartments, one night featured an open bar at Toad’s Place and another offered “unlimited Margaritas and Sangria” at El Amigo Felix, according to internal Feb Club spreadsheets that the organizers provided to the News.
Maxim Baranov ’18 described Feb Club as a “nice throwback” to the earlier, more party-filled stages of students’ Yale careers. But he said the organizers’ decision to take $5,000 in profits “was a bit much.”
“I personally thought that the organizers were volunteers, so I’m surprised they took a profit,” Baranov said. “But it’s still much cheaper than what any outside party would charge to organize 28 consecutive events.”
Pranam Dey ’18 called Feb Club a great way to bond with friends and applauded the organizers’ hard work. However, he said he was disturbed the organizers took $5,000 for themselves and their society, adding that “being fully transparent from the beginning about the fundraising aspect would have been better for everyone.”
Other attendees spoke highly of this year’s Feb Club. Leah Meyer ’18 defended the notion that Feb Club organizers should be paid, noting that the seniors behind the program work “extremely hard” to give fellow students 28 nights’ worth of alcohol for only $28, which she said was a steal.
“Ultimately, no one is being scammed into participating in Feb Club,” said Piwowar, one of the attendees. “It’s beautiful because it’s ridiculous. Societies, too, are ridiculous on an institutional level, but we get what we expect.”
The Feb Club tradition dates back to the 1970s.
Britton O’Daly | email@example.com