StudyAdvantage Magazine

Notorious Student Clubs Pt 2: Fly Club at Harvard

Published: January 2, 2017

In the Notorious Student Clubs series on StudyAdvantage, we explore the most rumoured student societies globally. So that you arrive on campus ‘aware’, and so that you can prepare yourself – whether that preparation is in anticipation of the membership application, or to do everything you can to avoid the clubs altogether. 


Harvard University


Harvard may be the University in the world most synonymous with Prestige, so no surprise that its undergraduate social scene features a number of exclusive, semi-secret student clubs – so-called “Final Clubs” (‘final’ because they originally admitted only students in or near the final year of their studies).

Today there are 11 final clubs at Harvard, 6 all-male and 5 all-female; among the most rumoured is the Fly Club, founded as an all-male literary society in 1836. Despite its somewhat patchy history, having gone through periods of inactivity and a merger with another society (DU Club), it is often considered – together with the Porcellian – the most exclusive final club on campus.


fly club harvard

Fly Club House, Two Holyoke Place


There are many examples of what gives the Fly’s such a strong presence at Harvard. One is its immaculate red brick club house, right near Harvard Square. Another is its impressive alumni which – in addition to three former Presidents of Harvard itself – also includes former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, senator Jay Rockefeller, Lionel de Jersey Harvard (the first descendant of Harvard’s founder to attend the college), and most recently Donald Trump’s ‘golden boy’ Jared Kushner.


But the Fly’s existence – as for its peer clubs, both all-male and all-female – is not unchallenged. Harvard’s final clubs are traditionally unrecognised by the University, but as of 2016 its President has taken tangible steps to push the clubs towards change. Arguing their exclusivity (both on basis of gender and social demographic) is out of line with Harvard’s values to “broaden opportunity and making Harvard a campus for all of its students.” (Harvard President Drew Faust)

Harvard President Drew Faust

Harvard President Drew Faust

For more background and context about the Fly, the final clubs at Harvard, and their recent challenges, read this recent article in NY Times, this one in US News, or this from Harvard’s largest student newspaper The Crimson.

Curious about another notorious student club? Check out Pt. 1, about Yale’s Skulls & Bones.

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