Harvard’s chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity has disaffiliated from its national organization and formed a new, co-ed social group called the KS, the group announced Friday.
Kappa Sigma is the latest single-gender group to change its membership policies in the wake of Harvard's policy penalizing membership in single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations, which takes effect with the Class of 2021. Members wrote in a statement announcing that the move was not directly related to Harvard’s policy.
“Irrespective of the proposed sanctions and unilateral decision-making of the university, we do not believe that gender should preclude students from joining an organization that simply values character, camaraderie, and diverse social experiences,” the group wrote.
The policy as it stands mandates that students who join single-gender final clubs, fraternities, and sororities are ineligible for several post-graduate scholarships and fellowships, and from holding leadership positions in student groups and varsity sports teams.
The KS will host an open recruitment process this year, the group wrote.
The new group prepares to recruit members as freshman interest in social groups may be on the decline: A survey distributed to the Class of 2021 by The Crimson found that only 27.6 percent of freshmen respondents said they were “somewhat” or “very interested” in joining fraternities, sororities or final clubs. Roughly 37 percent of the Class of 2020 and 41 percent of the Class of 2019 expressed interest in doing so in previous years of the survey.
In order to open its doors to non-male members, the chapter had to disaffiliate from its national organization. Members of the chapter received letters from the national fraternity Thursday notifying them that they had been “unanimously expelled” from the organization. A representative from the national Kappa Sigma fraternity could not immediately be reached for comment.
Formed in 2014, Kappa Sigma is the second of Harvard’s nine Greek organizations to take this course of action as Harvard’s policy goes into effect. Last spring, Harvard’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi announced they would forgo their national charter to form a new gender neutral group.
A few final clubs have also changed their membership policies amid Harvard’s harshened stance on single-gender groups. Most recently, the all-female Bee Club and all-male Delphic Club announced they would share membership and a clubhouse. Last year, both the the formerly all-male Oak Club and formerly all-female Sablière Society and Seneca Club went gender-neutral.
Though going co-ed will exempt the KS from the current social group policy, the group could still be subject to sanction if the College moves forward with a proposal to ban all social groups from campus. A committee tasked with reevaluating the current policy put forward that recommendation in a preliminary draft this summer, and will release a final report later this month.
—Staff writer Graham W. Bishai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GrahamBishai.