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Newsletter > November 2017- Special Edition > "Harvard Will Enforce Bans on Scholarships and Leadership Positions"
Harvard Will Enforce Bans on Scholarships and Leadership Positions
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatever hope may have existed that Harvard would rethink its penalties for membership in single-sex organizations were dashed on Monday, December 4th when the 13 members that compose the Harvard Corporation, the governing Board for the college, voted to uphold the originally proposed sanctions. Members of single-sex finals clubs, men’s fraternities or women’s fraternities, are barred from holding campus leadership positions, serving as captains of varsity athletic teams and receiving Harvard’s support for prestigious fellowships. A three-plus page, single-spaced statement issued the next day by Drew Faust, President of the College, and William F. Lee, Senior Fellow of the Harvard Corporation, continues to make it clear that Greek organizations have simply been caught up in the problems Harvard perceives with the Finals Club:
“First, the University must act. The Finals Club in particular are a product of another era, a time when Harvard’s student body was all male, culturally homogeneous, and overwhelmingly white and affluent.”
It goes on to favorably quote a statement by the President and Vice President of the Undergraduate Counsel:
“reporting on the results of a survey of the undergraduates, concluded that ‘the status quo is untenable, the Finals Club are omnipresent and omnipotent. The negative externalities of Harvard’s divisive social life cannot be ignored. The stratification that many of these groups insert into our community is striking and their impact is widely felt.’”
It remains curious that throughout this controversy there has been little actual criticism of men’s fraternities and virtually none about women’s groups, yet they are paying the price.
The Harvard Corporation did not adopt the alternative sanctions proposed by one of the study committees that would have required the dismissal of any students belonging to an unrecognized single-gender social organization (USGSO). Instead, it adopted the May 2016 policy stating:
“Under the policy, students may decide to join a USGSO and remain in good standing. Decisions often have consequences, as they do here in terms of the student’s eligibility for decanal endorsements and leadership positions supported by institutional resources. The policy does not discipline or punish the students; it instead recognizes that students who serve as leaders of our community should exemplify the characteristics of non-discrimination and inclusivity that are so important to our campus. Ultimately, students have the freedom to decision which is more important to them: membership in a gender-discriminatory organization, or access to these privileges and resources. The process of making these types of judgments, the struggle of defining one’s self, one’s identity, and one’s responsibilities to a broader community, is a valuable part of the personal growth and self-exploration we seek for our undergraduates. The USGSOs, in turn, have the choice to become gender-neutral and thus permit their members full access to all institutional privileges.”
In the December 8th daily newsletter internet edition of the Harvard Crimson, Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana is quoted as making it clear that there remains a great lack of clarity about how enforcement of this policy will be implemented. Khurana is quoted as saying: “We ask people’s patience while we make sure we send clear information and clear guidelines. We can’t answer all questions right now. I apologize to students who have those questions.”
After 18 months of often acrimonious debate, it is surprising that answers about the implementations of the policy are not immediately available.
It may well be that students will be required to affirm that they are not now nor have they ever been a member of Delta Gamma (or any other all-female or all-male social organization). The age of McCarthyism returns to America’s premier academic institution.