Committee Recommends Stricter Social Group Penalties

University Hall
University Hall houses many administrative offices of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
UPDATED: February 24, 2017 at 2:11 a.m.

A committee studying how to implement the College’s penalties on members of single-gender social organizations has recommended significantly increasing the number of post-graduate fellowships off-limits to members of final clubs and Greek organizations, according to three people involved in crafting the recommendations.

The suggestion is one of multiple recommendations listed in a report the committee prepared and marks an expansion of the College’s original penalties, first announced in May. When Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana unveiled the policy, it applied only to a select few fellowships—like the Rhodes, the Marshall, and the Schwarzman—that require the Dean’s endorsement.

Under the guidelines proposed by the committee, members of single-gender social organizations would be barred from several more post-graduate fellowships.

The significance of the recommendations, however, remains uncertain. Several administrators and a new, separate faculty committee—with the power to replace the entire policy—will review the proposed changes before they go into place.

The College’s current policy—set to take effect with the Class of 2021—will also bar members of unrecognized single-gender social groups from leadership roles in recognized student organizations and varsity captaincies.

Implementation committee members did not receive copies of the report, developed over the course of last semester, according to several members of the body. Rather, committee co-chairs Douglas A. Melton and Kay K. Shelemay printed copies of the document and placed them in University Hall. Members traveled to the building at select times earlier this month to physically examine the report and offer feedback.

The Crimson granted anonymity to members of the committee because they were not permitted to speak publicly about the report.

After Melton and Shelemay reviewed members’ comments, they submitted a final version of the report to Khurana. Melton, Shelemay, and Khurana declined to comment on the contents of the report until it becomes public.

“I have received the final report of the Implementation Committee, and at this time, am carefully reviewing the Committee’s recommendations,” Khurana wrote in an emailed statement Thursday. “I will release the final report, along with any response, after my review is complete.”

Khurana formed the 36-member implementation committee, composed of students, faculty, and staff, in Sept. 2016. The body has worked for months to craft its recommendations.

In another section of the group’s final report, the implementation committee recommended that The Crimson and the Undergraduate Council be subject to the College’s policy, according to the three committee members. Such a step would aim to bar members of final clubs and Greek organizations from holding leadership positions on either The Crimson or the UC.

In an email sent to undergraduates hours after the announcement of the sanctions last May, then-UC President Shaiba Rather and then-UC Vice President Daniel V. Banks ’17 wrote that they were concerned that the sanctions might apply to the Council’s leadership.

“Vetting of elected members of student government based on affiliation in certain groups is detrimental, and fundamentally opposed, to the vivacity of the democratic process,” Rather and Banks wrote.

Current UC President Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18, who is a member of the all-female Bee Club, did not speculate on “hypotheticals” in an interview Thursday evening, but said the UC hopes to ensure all students can run for leadership positions.

“In general, one of our top priorities is non-discrimination, so we support any initiative that is trying to remove discrimination,” Sachee said. “However, we also are an organization that seeks to represent all students on this campus, and we would like our membership to be available to all students.”

In a statement Thursday evening, President of The Crimson Derek K. Choi ’18 said The Crimson is exempt from the College’s policy.

“The Harvard Crimson is editorially, organizationally, and financially independent from Harvard College,” Choi said. “As a result, the sanctions policy does not apply to The Crimson.”

The faculty committee reconsidering the College’s policy will submit its own set of recommendations to Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith in the fall.

—Staff writer Graham W. Bishai can be reached at graham.bishai@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @GrahamBishai.

—Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at hannah.natanson@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @hannah_natanson.

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