The Future of Harvard Social Groups

The Crimson Editorial Board reacts to the new policy recommendation on social groups.

“Even with the presence of final clubs and Greek life, the College is already in dire need of spaces for social interaction. Last semester, The Crimson Editorial Board bemoaned the lack of physical space for parties and events and, in 2015, the Undergraduate Council pleaded that a library should be turned into a gathering place for freshmen. The administration should seek to add to the social atmosphere on campus, not subtract. Removing institutions like final clubs and fraternities without helping create a replacement will push more students off campus on the weekends to nearby bars and universities, where they are more vulnerable and in more danger.”
—Kelsey R. Thomas ’20

“The new recommendations on USGSOs address a lot of student concerns that pointed out the exclusive nature of elite social spaces on campus due to a variety of discriminatory factors—not just gender. The proposed policy is particularly responsive to the argument advanced by many single-gender female final clubs that safe spaces are needed for females on campus. As this report makes clear, these spaces are "safe" and comfortable only for elite groups. It’ll be interesting to see how the debate around the true issues of elitism and privilege will be reframed in the student body.”
—Julie S. Chung ’20

“A ban on exclusivity is not the same as furthered support for inclusivity. On the one hand, Harvard’s size—compared to Williams and Bowdoin—means that enforcement will be far more difficult, and it is likely exclusive social life could be simply driven further underground. On the other, the committee’s proposed restrictions would enable exclusive social spaces to re-form around extracurricular organizations, some of whom already accept members on the basis of subjective and exclusive criteria.”
—Richard P. Wang ’20

“Despite the controversy, we must trust that the committee has considered first the well-being of our community. They’ve rightfully upheld the myriad opinions from across the College expressed against USGSOs. As we move forward, we must continually remind ourselves of the more subtle considerations that the committee has emphasized surrounding gender discrimination, other forms of injustice, and threats to inclusivity both within and outside USGSOs. We must appreciate the weight of these arguments, challenging ourselves to change the trajectory of our past for the benefit of our community.”
—Siavash Zamirpour ’20

“This proposal shows how repeatedly the administration has changed its rationale for sanctioning social groups over the years. The pressure was originally directed towards the all-male final clubs due to their higher incidences of sexual misconduct. However, when the sanctions were originally promulgated, they were against all single-sex social organizations—including all-female ones, which did not have the same history of sexual misconduct. The concern thus seemingly changed to all single-sex social organizations condoning gender discrimination. Now, even co-ed groups are under fire due to the possibility that they could still have exclusive practices “that go against the educational mission” of the College. Although the egalitarianism underlying the current rationale may be noble, these shifting, sprawling justifications stymie dialogue with the administration at best and actively diminish trust in it at worst.”
—Hansy D. Piou ’18

“Social equality among Harvard students must be improved, but the measures are unilaterally harsh towards certain groups. Not all single-gender groups are created equal. The centuries-old Delphic or Fly Clubs almost certainly engender race, class, and social divisions between students, but Harvard's sororities, which are all less than 25 years old, hardly have the same effects. The new suggestions ignore historical and social nuance, as well as the inconvenient truth that students find Harvard’s Houses and other properties unsuitable for socializing, especially with the presence of alcohol.”
—Robert Miranda ’20

“For how unpopular the original sanctions were, they were inadequate. Final clubs that went co-ed were off the hook without having to substantially address issues of gender discrimination. The policy did nothing to address the fact that clubs are socioeconomically inaccessible cesspools of privilege. This next step is critical for curtailing the power of institutions that hearken to an older version of Harvard, one wrought with even worse sexism and class elitism that gave only a select few men a voice.”
—Ruben E. Reyes Jr. ’19

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