Harvard to ban members of single-sex clubs from student leadership roles

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Source: The Guardian

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Harvard University will bar members of single-sex clubs, fraternities and sororities from fellowships and leadership roles on campus, college presidentDrew Gilpin Faust announced on Friday, in an effort to prevent sexual discrimination.

“Although the fraternities, sororities and final [single-sex] clubs are not formally recognized by the college,” Faust wrote in an open letter to dean Rakesh Khurana, “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.

“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.”

Harvard ended its formal recognition of “final clubs” in 1984, after such groups rejected an ultimatum to accept people of both sexes. The new rules will forbid members from serving as captains on athletic teams or as leaders of officially recognized clubs, and from receiving endorsement letters from deans.

Members will also be barred from prestigious fellowships, such as the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships.

“Students will decide for themselves whether to engage with these organizations, as members or otherwise,” Faust wrote in an open letter on Friday.

“But just as students have choice, so too the college must determine for itself the structure of activities that it funds or endorses.”

Faust is the first female president of Harvard, which was founded in 1636. Her decision followed a report from a taskforce examining the prevention of sexual assault, and largely agreed with sanctions proposed by college dean Rakesh Khurana.

“While final clubs are not the exclusive or even the principal cause of sexual assault at the college,” the taskforce wrote, “we also do not see any solution that does not involve addressing the disturbing practical and cultural implications they present in undergraduate life.”

Faust wrote that she was worried about how “unsupervised social spaces can present [concerns] for sexual misconduct and alcohol abuse”.

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