Beginning in fall 2017, Harvard will sanction new members of final clubs and Greek organizations.
In a Friday morning email, Harvard President Drew Faust announced that beginning with the class of 2021, members of these organizations — which the university does not recognize — will no longer be allowed to captain athletic teams, hold leadership positions within official campus organizations or earn the University’s endorsement for prestigious scholarships like the Rhodes and Marshall. These changes come based on the recommendations of Rakesh Khurana, the dean of Harvard College.
“Although they are private organizations, these unrecognized single-gender social organizations are comprised principally, if not exclusively, of Harvard College students and undermine Harvard’s campus culture,” Khurana wrote in a public letter to Faust. “At the same time, their fundamental principles are antithetical to our institutional values.”
Khurana said while he recognizes that these organizations have provided a place of “comfort and identity” for many members, he expects student leaders in athletics, academics and extracurricular activities to foster a non-discriminatory culture at Harvard, including by avoiding these organizations.
The sanctions come at the end of a year of administrative challenges to the role of these organizations in undergraduate life. A university task force dedicated to sexual assault prevention released a report earlier this semester stating that the clubs are disproportionately associated with sexual assault, and describing the organizations as “deeply misogynistic.”
Rather than sanction all Greek organizations or senior societies, Yale has attempted to expand their inclusivity and oversight. In the spring of 2015, former Yale College Council President Danny Avraham ’15 announced an initiative to establish enough senior societies to accommodate all interested juniors. And in a report released on Tuesday, the YCC recommended that the University better monitor greek organizations through a variety of initiatives, including by formalizing relations with them.
“The perception that Yale has no power over its Greek organizations is incredibly harmful and decreases campus trust in Greek organizations as responsible, accountable parts of campus life,” the YCC report read.