In what could be a win for gender equality, Harvard College is denouncing traditionally single-sex student organizations and imposing harsh sanctions on those who still wish to participate in them, The Harvard Crimson reports.
Harvard, which is concerned with the clubs’ membership selection processes, announced Friday that it will bar all class of 2021 students and those following who choose to join single-sex final clubs (exclusive social organizations similar to fraternities and sororities) and Greek organizations from certain privileges. Members of these groups will not be allowed to hold campus leadership positions (such as those on athletic teams) or receive recommendations for post-graduate scholarships unless the organizations become co-ed, the Crimson reports. The members of these clubs make up about 30 percent of the College’s student population, The New York Times reports.
In fall 2015, two historically male final clubs—the Spee Club and the Fox Club—both agreed to open admission to women, The New York Times reports. And Princeton University’s eating clubs, which is a similar system to that of Harvard’s final clubs, became coeducational in 1990.
“Although the fraternities, sororities, and final clubs are not formally recognized by the College, they play an unmistakable and growing role in student life, in many cases enacting forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values,” University President Drew G. Faust wrote in an email to the Harvard community Friday. “The College cannot ignore these organizations if it is to advance our shared commitment to broadening opportunity and making Harvard a campus for all of its students.”
The announcement left room for greater sanctions to be imposed, the Crimson reports, including one similar to what actually happened at Amherst College in 2014—Students could be banned from being both a member of a single-sex social organization and a student at the College.