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College Plans to Pilot Inter-House Dining Societies

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana in his office Tuesday
Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana in his office Tuesday
By Hannah Natanson and Derek G. Xiao, Crimson Staff Writers

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana said he will not pursue every single recommendation of the sanctions implementation committee that he accepted.
Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana said he will not pursue every single recommendation of the sanctions implementation committee that he accepted. By Megan M. Ross

Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana will follow the “spirit”—if not the exact wording—of recommendations from a report on the College’s social group policy released last month, though he committed to pursuing at least one suggestion: forming inter-House dining societies.

Khurana emailed the 46-page report, produced by a committee charged with recommending how to implement the College’s penalties on members of single-gender social groups, to the undergraduate student body on March 6. At the time, he wrote in an email to undergraduates that he was “accepting nearly all of the committee’s recommendations.”

In an interview Tuesday, however, Khurana said he will not pursue every single recommendation he accepted.

“[We’ll be] addressing the principle and the spirit of the recommendations, because I think people were giving examples,” Khurana said of the specific recommendations in the report. “So really accepting the spirit and the principle.”

The College’s social group policy, set to take effect with the Class of 2021, bars undergraduate members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations from holding certain fellowships, leadership positions, and athletic team captaincies.

The wide-ranging report laid out guidelines for enforcing the policy, in particular recommending that the Honor Council investigate students who violate the policy and calling for a three- to five-year “bridge” program for traditionally female final clubs and sororities as these groups transition to gender-neutral status.

The report also proposed forming “inter-House dining societies” of around 40 students who would have weekly meals in the dining halls, and suggests those groups could “eat in elegant attire” and “read Chaucer out loud.”

“The societies as a group might also develop a calendar of signature collective events,” the report reads. “For example, they might all gather together in early September in a gala mixer at the Harvard Club of Boston. Or they might decide to chip in to rent a cruise boat on the Boston harbor. The possibilities here are extensive.”

Khurana said Tuesday that the College may begin considering how to implement this recommendation over the summer.

“I think that’s an important one to pilot,” he said. “And what that exact format looks like, and what that exact enabling structure is, is something we have to work out.”

More broadly, Khurana said he will prioritize fulfilling recommendations that create more “social choices for our students.” He pointed to several ongoing projects he said are intended to address this issue: creation of new social spaces in Cabot Science Library and the Smith Campus Center, a program allowing freshmen to rent out dormitory common rooms for parties, and large-scale College-funded events like the annual Halloween party in Annenberg Hall and the Harvard-Yale football game.

Khurana added he will collaborate with the Office of Student Life, House Faculty Deans, and the Freshman Dean’s Office to realize the report’s recommendations going forward, but emphasized the work will not always be top-down, administrative enforcement.

“A lot of it is to allow for both providing some kind of light structure, but also allowing these sorts of things to organically emerge,” he said. “A lot of this is going to be small things.”

—Staff writer Hannah Natanson can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @hannah_natanson.

—Staff writer Derek G. Xiao can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @derekgxiao.

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