New Faculty Motion Opposes Enforcement Plan for Sanctions

University Hall
Monthly meetings of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences are held in University Hall.
A member of the committee reevaluating the College's policy penalizing members of single-gender socials groups filed a motion in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Friday strongly criticizing a key element of the policy's proposed enforcement.

Biology professor David A. Haig, who is a member of the faculty committee deciding whether the policy should be "revised or replaced," filed the motion, which opposes a proposed requirement that students sign a document affirming they do not belong to a single-gender final club or Greek organization before applying for leadership positions, athletic team captaincies, or fellowships.

The suggestion Haig objects to is one of many recommendations included in a 46-page report released March 6 by a committee tasked with advising how to enforce the College’s penalties on members of single-gender social groups. Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana accepted nearly all the recommendations formulated by the implementation committee—the group that wrote the report—last week.

Haig announced his motion Sunday in a guest post on the personal blog of former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, himself an intensely vocal critic of the the policy.

“This faculty does not approve of Harvard College requiring a student to make an oath, pledge or affirmation about whether the student belongs to a particular organization or category of organizations,” the motion reads.

Under the implementation committee’s recommendations, students—starting with the class of 2021—who seek leadership positions, captaincies, or fellowships will have to sign a written statement affirming their commitment to “nondiscrimination on the basis of characteristics of ‘intrinsic identity,’ including gender.” The document requires that students affirm they do not currently belong to a single-gender final club or Greek organization, did not belong to one in the past year, and will not belong to one the year after their tenure in a leadership position or athletic captaincy ends.

Last week, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith selected Haig to serve on the faculty review committee and announced that Khurana will co-chair it.

Haig’s motion marks the second time a faculty member has chosen to file Faculty legislation in opposition to the sanctions. Shortly after Khurana announced the policy in May 2016, Lewis filed a motion stating that “Harvard College shall not discriminate against students on the basis of organizations they join.” Unlike Lewis’s motion, which he believed would necessarily overturn the sanctions if passed, Haig’s motion is explicitly worded to avoid a binding result.

“I did not want the motion to be complicated by the disputed question of whether the faculty or the administration has ultimate jurisdiction in this matter,” Haig wrote in his blog post, adding that his motion aims to provide a “sense of the faculty” on the issue.

Haig wrote in an email Monday, however, that he hopes his motion causes “the College to decide that the policy is unwise.”

Haig and psychology professor Jason P. Mitchell, a signatory of Lewis’s original motion opposing the single-gender social policy, are the only two current members of the faculty committee who have publicly opposed the College’s social group policy. In an interview with The Crimson last week, Smith said the size of the faculty committee could grow.

Haig wrote in an email that the motion could provide the committee with input from the entire Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

“The committee is not a representative body of the faculty and would benefit from knowing the [Faculty’s] opinions on this matter,” Haig wrote.

Khurana wrote in an emailed statement Monday that he looks forward to “working with Professor Haig as he is a member of the review committee.”

Lewis, who withdrew his own motion opposing the single-gender social policy after Khurana announced the creation of the faculty committee, wrote in an email that he supports Haig’s motion. Lewis declined to comment further, though he did criticize the implementation committee’s final report on the social group policy in a post on his blog last week.

Haig wrote in an email that his motion will be discussed at the next meeting of the Faculty Council—FAS’s highest elected body—on March 22.

“I note that the policy of the Implementation Committee has been accepted,” Haig wrote. “Therefore I thought it was time that the faculty had their say.”

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

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

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