Faculty Will Vote on Adding Sanctions to Student Handbook

Harry Lewis After the Meeting
Former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 talks with colleagues.

UPDATED: March 1, 2018 at 7:59 p.m.

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences will vote to either accept or reject the appearance of the College’s policy on single-gender social organizations in the Harvard student handbook, Dean of Students Katherine G. O’Dair announced Thursday.

This acceptance or rejection will occur at the end of the semester as part of the Faculty’s annual review of changes to the handbook.

The Office of Student Life will oversee the implementation of Harvard’s social group policy and will request that the Faculty approve the policy and add it to the handbook, O’Dair wrote in an email Thursday detailing the College's final plan to implement its year-old social group policy. The penalties—the subject of months of review and debate—prohibit members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations from holding leadership positions in student organizations and athletic teams and from receiving endorsements for certain prestigious fellowships. The sanctions took effect with the Class of 2021.

Dean of FAS Michael D. Smith previously said in an interview that large changes to the handbook would have to go before the Faculty Council—FAS’s highest governing body—twice before being presented to the full Faculty for a vote. The Faculty typically vote on changes to the handbook at their May meeting.

The handbook vote will mark the first time the Faculty vote directly on the policy. Last semester, former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 proposed a motion designed explicitly to cancel the sanctions. The text of the legislation, though, did not mention the penalties directly.

The motion instead stated that the College shall not “discipline, penalize, or otherwise sanction students” for joining “any lawful organization.” At the November Faculty meeting, 90 professors voted for the motion and 130 professors voted against it, striking it down.

In interviews last semester and last month, Smith, University President Drew G. Faust, and Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana all repeatedly said they did not yet know whether the policy would be listed in the handbook.

—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.

—Staff writer Lucy Wang can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lucyyloo22


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