UPDATED: February 15, 2018 at 4:42 p.m.
Some College-run advising and mentorship programs tailored to freshmen recently published guidelines outlining how they may be affected by the College’s social group penalties, though the Office of Student Life has yet to release an official enforcement plan for the sanctions.
The policy—which took effect with the Class of 2021—bars members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations from holding student group leadership positions, varsity athletic team captaincies, and from receiving College endorsement for prestigious fellowships.
In an interview in early February, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana declined to give a timeline for the release of a final enforcement plan for the penalties, instead tasking the Office of Student Life with formulating implementation guidelines. He said in February that the Office is currently working to finalize the details and will take as long as it needs to “get this right.”
Nonetheless, some College-run programs have begun taking matters into their own hands. Both the First-Year Outdoor Program and the Peer Advising Fellows program posted interpretations of how the sanctions may affect them on their respective websites.
The website for FOP—an initiative that sends incoming freshmen and undergraduate “leaders” on camping trips ahead of the start of school—states that, as of now, all students will be eligible to serve as FOP leaders, no matter whether they are also members of sanctioned organizations. The website adds, though, that—beginning with the Class of 2021—students who join unrecognized single-gender social groups “should not expect to also be able to serve on FOP's Steering Committee,” the undergraduate body that governs the program.
FOP Director Paul R. “Coz” Teplitz ’03 said the Office of Student Life is “aware” of the online announcement. But he added the statement itself comes only from the leaders of FOP and the Freshman Dean’s Office.
Teplitz emphasized FOP is still awaiting an official enforcement policy from the College. He said FOP released guidelines ahead of the final plan given its timeline for recruitment; students interested in serving as FOP leaders were required to submit applications by Dec. 6, 2017.
“We are still waiting for guidance from OSL and we also felt the time pressure… about wanting people in the Class of 2021 to be able to make informed decisions,” Teplitz said. “So we decided to move forward with this plan as the plan that we thought would be consistent with the descriptions of the policy as has been written.”
Asked whether FOP would change its policy if future guidance from the OSL conflicts with the current guidelines posted online, Teplitz said he does not think so. He said FOP plans to hold students “accountable” only to the information they possessed at the time the undergraduates applied to join FOP.
“If there are students of [the Class of] 2021 who are members of USGSOs who are still interested in becoming FOP leaders and we choose them as leaders, but in two or three months we learn guidance from the OSL that that is not with the ideal, we would fight pretty hard to allow those students to participate as leaders for a year, and then we would change for the following years,” Teplitz said.
The Peer Advising Fellows program, a campus student mentorship system that pairs freshmen with other undergraduates, has also recently sought to interpret the sanctions.
The Advising Programs Office, which administers the PAF program, posted on its website that all students—regardless of social group affiliation—will be eligible to apply to become a PAF. The statement notes, however, that this does not mean all applicants will earn PAF offers.
In the online posting, the Advising Programs Office added it is currently working with the Office of Student Life to determine how—exactly—the sanctions may affect the PAF initiative.
“As the OSL considers implementation of the policy, OSL will offer guidance about how the policy relates to the PAF program,” the website reads. “Members of the Class of 2021, especially, should note that clarification of the PAF program policy will be issued before official offers are made.”
Brooks B. Lambert-Sluder ’05, the director of the Peer Advising Fellows program, did not immediately respond to comment Wednesday.
Katherine W. Steele, the director of pre-orientation programs at the Freshman Dean’s Office, said in an interview Wednesday that she has met with the directors of all freshman pre-orientation programs—including FOP—to discuss the role of the sanctions in their respective recruitment processes.
“In the same way that you’re seeing FOP communication about this in their application process, ideally this same thing would happen with all the programs,” Steele said. “The language you see with FOP is likely to be very similar to language that you will see for other programs.”
Steele said more announcements will come along with the “natural application cycle and process.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
CORRECTION: February 15, 2018
A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the First-Year Outdoor program and the Peer Advising Fellows program as recognized student organizations. In fact, the two programs are not sponsored student organizations nor independent student organizations and as such do not go through the Office of Student Life recognition process.
—Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.
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