Harvard's Faculty Council punted on a motion challenging the College’s proposed enforcement of penalties on members of single-gender social groups at its biweekly meeting Wednesday.
Instead of voting in favor of or against the motion, the Council recommended the motion instead be taken up by another committee tasked with deciding whether the entire policy should be “revised or replaced.”
Biology professor David A. Haig—who sits on the committee considering replacing the policy—presented the motion to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' highest elected body its biweekly meeting on Wednesday. The motion takes issue with 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.
While the Faculty Council recommends the direction it thinks legislation should take, its decisions are not binding. Haig’s motion will be on the docket for discussion at the next Faculty meeting on April 4, and may come to a vote in a later meeting.
Haig announced his motion last week as a guest post on the personal blog of former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, a vocal critic of the policy who had previously submitted a motion opposing it.
The requirement Haig said he takes issue with is one of the recommendations included in a March 6 report by a committee tasked with advising how to enforce the College’s penalties on members of final clubs and Greek organizations. Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana accepted nearly all of the report's recommendations earlier this month.
“The laudable aim of gender-inclusivity has metamorphosed into a proposal that students seeking certain awards or offices are required to affirm that they are in compliance with ‘the College’s policy regarding the principle of non-discrimination, particularly with regard to membership in unrecognized single-gender social organizations,’” Haig wrote in the blog post. “I consider the requirement for such an affirmation to be a dangerous precedent."
Faculty Council member and Japanese history professor David L. Howell said he felt the motion was “premature,” given that there is now a committee tasked with considering the types of questions the motion raises.
“We understood the concerns behind the motion, but because there is this new committee that will be considering the implementation committee report, and also the policy itself, it seemed that that would be the proper place to have the discussions at this point,” he said.
Howell added that if there were still concerns after the committee’s work, Haig could then submit another motion.
Haig’s motion is the second piece of Faculty legislation to oppose 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.”
After heated debate at several Faculty meetings, Lewis withdrew the motion following the announcement of the faculty committee in January.—Staff writer Mia C. Karr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @miackarr.