The prestige of Phi Delta Kappa the nation's oldest fraternity for educators, is on the wane as it continues to deny admission to women.
The Harvard chapter, one of the largest and most prestigious in the fraternity, faces, suspension for admitting 38 female members in direct contradiction to the international fraternity's constitution.
But the forces for opening the fraternity to women are growing. Cornell's chapter has already been suspended and about ten other chapters, including the original chapter at Columbia and chapters at Stanford and New York University, now also admit women.
Paul N. Ylvisaker, dean of the Faculty of Education, is sending a letter today to all members of the Harvard chapter encouraging them to support open membership.
He urges the chapter "to continue in every way it can, and as long as it can, to persuade the membership and officers of the international to quit its discriminatory practices and change its membership policy."
The Harvard chapter, which has been admitting women for four years found in a poll last fall that 72 per cent of its members favored withdrawal from the international unless it changed its admissions policy.
Lebaron C. Moseby Jr., the Harvard chapter president, said yesterday that he fully expects the chapter to be suspended at a hearing set for January 26, Moseby and Virginia C. Barcus, chapter vice president, will jointly represent the chapter at the suspension hearing.
While they are resigned to losing their plea for women on constitutional grounds, they hope to gather support for an amendment to be introduced at the international's next convention in Houston this fall. The amendment, which would open the fraternity to women, has failed by wide margins in the last two biennial gatherings.