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The Sanctions Saga: Single Gender Organizations

L M A O. Were you hoping to come to Harvard to balance an insane course load with some fun, perhaps by joining a frat, sorority, or a Harvard-exclusive version of the two, called a final club? Guess what—you can’t. Sorry. The policy began with the class of 2021, and all incoming students thereafter will be penalized for joining a non-compliant single-gender social organization.

The sanctions are a move toward making the Harvard community more accessible to all students on campus and were largely enacted due to a link between sexual assault and single-gender social clubs. Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana wrote that “the most entrenched of these spaces send an unambiguous message that they are the exclusive preserves of men. In their recruitment practices and through their extensive resources and access to networks of power, these organizations propagate exclusionary values that undermine those of the larger Harvard College community.”

Former President Drew Faust, in an email to the College student body, wrote: “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.”

What does all this mean? In effect, students who join these groups cannot be captains of varsity athletic teams, be president or leader of a club, and are not eligible for College-sponsored fellowships. These include Rhodes Scholarships and Fulbright fellowships. For groups to be considered compliant, they have to meet a set of requirements that range from providing membership statistics (but not names) to making concrete efforts to be gender-inclusive.

A word of caution: the College’s recent communications about the new requirements have been frequently updated and are still not set in stone. To that end, we advise that you pay attention to the emails that will make their way to your inbox—likely in the fall, but definitely by the end of the year.

If you’re still confused: don’t worry, so are we. The administration is taking its time in terms of outlining what it wants to see from clubs, and no one really knows how implementation will work. Just be aware that the social scene is in flux, and could still change.

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Francesca Malatesta,  Editor in Chief
Jessica Luo, Publishing Director