In Off-Record Town Hall, Social Studies Concentrators Discuss Sanctions

About 20 Social Studies concentrators met with members of a committee tasked with reviewing a College policy set to penalize membership in final clubs and Greek organizations in a town hall event on Tuesday.

The off-record conversation—facilitated by former Undergraduate Council Vice President Danny V. Banks ’17 and Shubhankar Chhokra ’18, an inactive Crimson editorial editor—attracted roughly 20 students to William James Hall. A Crimson reporter was asked to leave the event at its beginning.

History professor and chair of Social Studies James T. Kloppenberg, as well as Social Studies concentrators Banks and Chhokra, all sit on a committee that could revise or replace the College’s penalties for members of single-gender social groups.

William James Hall
The Social Studies department, located in William James Hall, held a town hall to discuss a policy penalizing members of final clubs and Greek organizations.

“The committee has been asked to gather perspectives from students, and they would like to hear from you,” Anya B. Bassett, a senior lecturer on Social Studies, wrote in an emailed invitation to concentrators on April 26.

Bassett stressed in another email that the focus of the discussion was solely on student feedback regarding the sanctions.

“Jim Kloppenberg… and I will be there, but only to listen,” Bassett wrote.

Starting with the Class of 2021, the College’s policy will bar members of single-gender social groups from holding leadership positions in recognized student groups, becoming varsity captains, or receiving College endorsement for a number of prestigious fellowships.

The sanctions—which Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana and other College administrators spent a year crafting behind closed doors before unveiling in May 2016—was met with intense criticism, including a push among some professors to overturn it through Faculty legislation.

In light of faculty opposition, Khurana called for the formation of the faculty committee, which is tasked with assessing “whether the policy can be improved, either by changing aspects of its existing structure or through some broader revision.” Khurana currently co-chairs the committee, which is expected to produce recommendations for Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith in fall 2017.

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


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