Harvard’s next president will likely keep the College’s penalties on members of single-gender social groups largely unaltered, Harvard Corporation senior fellow William F. Lee ’72 said in an interview last week.
Lee chairs the search committee tasked with selecting Harvard’s 28th president—the successor to current University President Drew G. Faust, who announced over the summer she plans to step down in June 2018. He said last Thursday he thinks Faust’s replacement will probably continue many of her policies.
“If you think about the number of different policies that have been put in place during Drew's tenure, our expectation is that the new president will have the same set of broad goals in mind, and as a consequence new and better policies might be developed,” Lee said.
He added the next president will likely share what he called Faust's commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive campus.
“It’s very unlikely that they’re going to have a radically different view than we have on things like the single-gender organizations,” Lee said.
The College’s penalties—which took effect with the Class of 2021—bar members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations from campus leadership positions, varsity athletic team captaincies, and certain prestigious fellowships. The sanctions have drawn controversy and criticism since Faust first announced the social group policy in May 2016.
Faust has stood by the penalties, defending them in speeches and in a Crimson op-ed. She does, however, have the power to change the sanctions—she is currently considering a set of recommendations from a Harvard committee that proposed either keeping the sanctions as they are, banning membership in unrecognized groups outright, or considering “some other possible solutions.”
Faust said in November that she may wait until December or later to make a final decision on the future of the College’s social group policy. Regardless of which option she ultimately chooses, Lee said last week he thinks the next president will abide by Faust’s decision.
“It’s likely that the policies she’s put in place will continue,” he said, referring to Faust.
Lee also said members of the Corporation will discuss the College’s social group penalties with the next president in much the same manner they did with Faust. Faust has said she thinks she and the Corporation have ultimate power over the future of undergraduate social life.
“We’ll be consulting with the president the same way we have earlier to help get to the right decision,” Lee said. “And I think it’s a good process.”
In the interview last week, Lee said the presidential search committee is rounding out its “information-gathering phase” and will begin “phase two”—winnowing a list of almost 700 nominated candidates—by the end of December.
—Staff writer Brandon J. Dixon contributed reporting.
—Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @hannah_natanson.