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Social Group Recommendations Met With Skepticism, Praise

By Hannah Natanson and Andrew J. Zucker, Crimson Staff Writers

The recommendations strengthening the College's policy penalizing members of single-gender social organizations has prompted both skepticism and praise among some of the Harvard affiliates affected by the expanded guidelines.

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana accepted a number of recommendations Monday, including tasking the Honor Council with helping enforce the College’s policy and increasing list of fellowships ineligible to members of single-gender groups. These suggestions formed part of a larger report issued by a committee tasked with recommending how to implement the College’s penalties on single-gender social groups.

The policy, slated to take effect next fall, will bar members of final clubs and Greek organizations from receiving certain fellowships, holding athletic captaincies, and maintaining leadership positions in student groups.

Honor Council member Jake H. Hummer ’17 said he first learned that the Council will be involved with the policy’s enforcement after Khurana’s College-wide announcement Monday afternoon.

“I don’t believe that any undergraduates on the Council were consulted about expanding their role to this,” Hummer said in an interview Monday. “I have heard nothing about this, and I consider myself to be in a leadership position on the Council, so if I haven’t heard of it, I’d be surprised if anyone else has.”

Multiple other members of the Honor Council did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Hummer said he “completely disagreed” with the report’s suggestion that the Honor Council assume responsibility for disciplining some students in violation of the College’s policy. According to College spokesperson Rachael Dane, the Council will reprimand members of final clubs and Greek organizations who apply for fellowships barred by the policy.

“If I had known this would be my role on the Honor Council, I would not have joined,” Hummer said.

The report also suggested that The Crimson and the Undergraduate Council be subject to the College’s policy, meaning members of final clubs and Greek organizations—starting with the Class of 2021—would be unable to hold leadership positions in those groups. But Khurana did not immediately accept that recommendation, writing in his email that the proposal required “further deliberation.”

In four of the past five years, at least one UC President or Vice President has been a member of a final club or Greek organization.

UC President Yasmin Z. Sachee ’18, a member of the all-female Bee Club, and Vice President Cameron K. Khansarinia ’18 declined to comment on the committee’s recommendations, but said they will release a full statement Tuesday morning. President of The Crimson Derek K. Choi ’18 said he was pleased with Khurana’s decision.

“Dean Khurana's email correctly acknowledges The Crimson’s longstanding legal, financial, and institutional separation from the College,” Choi said.

Adams House representative Nicholas P. Whittaker ’19 was glad Khurana did not immediately accept the recommendation that the UC be subject to the College’s policy.

“This is a big decision to make,” Whittaker said. “He’s got the right move to wait, just because this is a very important decision to make.”

UC treasurer Nicholas D. Boucher ’19 said he does not support penalizing students in single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations who seek UC positions.

“I, right now, believe that anyone should be able to be representative of their peers. So if I was going to make a decision right now, I would say that anyone should be able to be elected to the UC, in my opinion,” he said.

Former UC Vice President Jen Q. Y. Zhu ’14, a former member of the Delta Gamma sorority, also said she opposes the implementation committee's recommendation.

“I really disagree with their recommendation,” she said. “This is the breakdown of government, in a sense, like, if people cannot participate in their government, then who does the government really represent?”

Richard T. Porteus, Jr. ’78 , the graduate board president of the all-male Fly Club, said he was particularly “intrigued” by the report’s suggestion that certain student groups transitioning from single-gender to coed status be required to publish demographic breakdowns of their membership.

“That sounds incredibly invasive and it’s not something that is being applied to Harvard’s recognized activities,” Porteus said. “Is Harvard going to provide the same sociodemographic information regarding the members of its polo team?”

“If Harvard is going to put demands on social organizations then it should expand why it’s not carrying that same test to all of its activities,” Porteus said.

—Staff writer Andrew J. Zucker can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJZucker.

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