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On Monday, members of a committee tasked with recommending how to implement penalties on members of single-gender social clubs received an email wishing them a happy new year.
The brief message, from committee co-chairs Douglas Melton and Kay K. Shelemay, informed them the committee was “moving toward a completed first draft” of recommendations for Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana.
But two days later, members of the implementation committee learned that their recommendations, which they had been working on for months, may not carry the weight they initially expected. Just minutes before Khurana announced the news to the school, implementation committee members found out that the policy they were working to implement could be “revised or replaced” by an entirely new committee.
“As we continue our work, it is important for you to know that the current policy will remain in effect, pending the assessment of this new committee,” wrote Shelemay and Melton in a Wednesday afternoon email to committee members.
“Dean Khurana has assured us that our recommendations will provide needed guidance for the current policy and inform the work of the new faculty committee as well,” reads the email, obtained by The Crimson.
The new committee, comprised of faculty, students, and staff, will brainstorm how to improve the College’s policy—which, as it currently stands, would bar members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations from leadership positions and College endorsement for fellowships. The new group will submit its final recommendations to Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith, after which University President Drew G. Faust will review the potentially reworked policy.
Announcing the new body, dubbed “the Faculty Committee,” Khurana wrote that “we take seriously the call from members of the Faculty to have further input” into shaping the sanctions. The College’s policy has been dogged by criticism from a vocal set of faculty who have accused the administrators of skirting shared governance in crafting the original sanctions.
Though members of the committee were not notified of a potential change until minutes before Khurana’s announcement, Melton said Thursday he heard the news “probably in the last two days.” Melton said he was not involved in the formation of the new committee.
“I knew there was going to be an announcement, but I had no role in the creation of the committee,” Melton said. “And, to my knowledge, nor did anyone on the [implementation] committee.”
In an emailed statement, Khurana wrote that he “stayed in regular communication with the co-chairs of the implementation committee as I considered how best to respond to faculty members' desire to provide input on how the [single-gender] policy might be improved.”
Melton said that the implementation committee’s role was and remains advisory despite the new committee's potential influence on the policy. Any changes to policy resulting from the recommendations would require administrative approval.
“I would say more broadly that it’s possible that the recommendations of the implementation committee will not be accepted by the Dean of the College, or Mike Smith, or Drew Faust. We’re going to make recommendations to them. We don’t set policy,” Melton said.
Faust said the implementation committee’s work will still be valuable in potentially revising the sanctions.
“They’ve really done a lot of work and outreach, and collecting ideas so I think that this will build right on what they’ve done,” Faust said.
Daniel V. Banks ’17, a former Vice President of the Undergraduate Council who currently serves on the implementation committee, said committee members remain committed to completing the task they were initially assigned.
“What I will say is that the implementation committee was convened to get a job done, to talk about the intricacies and the logistics of adopting this policy,” he said.
“The implementation committee will continue to hammer out the details until told otherwise,” he added.
Melton said the implementation committee will deliver its recommendations to Khurana as planned, likely within a month. After Khurana reviews these recommendations, a version of the final report will be shared with the College.
“I am pleased with the progress the committee has made,” Melton said. “We’re not just sitting on our hands.”
—Staff writer Graham W. Bishai can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GrahamBishai.
—Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @hannah_natanson.
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