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Smith Says College Considering Adding Sanctions to Handbook

FAS Dean Michael D. Smith
Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith at the HAA meeting Commencement 2017.
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith said the College has not decided if the recently-affirmed undergraduate social life policy will appear in the student handbook, which is approved each May by the Faculty.

University President Drew G. Faust announced Tuesday that the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, had voted to maintain a policy that penalizes members of final clubs and Greek organizations.

Maintaining the sanctions was one of three options Faust faced for the future of undergraduate social life. The other two options were to institute a ban on membership in single-gender groups or choose from a set of other possible options.

The Faculty voted down a motion designed to counter the policy in November. In an interview in October, however, Smith said the Faculty may have another chance to vote on the policy: If it is introduced into the handbook, Faculty will have to approve it in May.

Smith said that now that Faust and the Corporation have reached their decision, the College is reviewing the handbook.

“Now that we’ve reached a point where we have some clarity on how to move forward, we will go and look at the handbook and decide what changes need to be made,” he said.

In an interview last week, Faust said she does not know whether or not the policy will go into the handbook, and that the Corporation does not get involved with the student handbook.

“I don’t think most people in the Corporation would have much knowledge of what’s even in the handbook, or the details of the handbook,” she said. “That’s something that will be very much in the hands of the Dean of the College and the Faculty to work out.”

In October, Smith said that any “major changes” to the University’s policy on unrecognized single gender social groups would likely be approved by the Faculty. But in the interview Friday, Smith said the policy could instead appear in a different location.

“I’m sure we’ll find ways to make sure that the students understand the policy,” Smith said. “Certain things are written in the handbook, other things are available to you as policy on one of our websites, available to you on other venues.”

Throughout months of debate on the sanctions, some faculty members charged that the policy—which was not approved by faculty beforehand—has infringed upon their right to shared governance of the University. With the Corporation’s unusual foray into undergraduate social life, some faculty members remain concerned that they are losing a say in University affairs. Smith said he does not see it that way.

“I don’t see it as unnatural that the Corporation was involved in this,” he said. “As I said earlier, I think that all of us have to be working together for this policy to work. The partnership with the students and the Faculty and the administration is going to be critical to the success of getting to the kind of community that we want on campus.”

Smith said he is not sure in what capacity the Faculty will be involved with the implementation of the policy. Faust announced Tuesday that the policy will be reviewed in five years; the review will be presented to the Faculty.

“I hope the community works together on trying to understand how to move forward with the policy that we now know that we’re going to be using for the next five years,” he said.

—Staff writer Joshua J. Florence can be reached at joshua.florence@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaFlorence1.

Staff writer Mia C. Karr can be reached at mia.karr@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @miackarr

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