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Contradicting earlier statements, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana repeatedly declined to say when the College will release a final plan to enforce its social group penalties in an interview Friday.
The sanctions—which took effect with the Class of 2021—bar members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations from holding student group leadership positions, varsity athletic team captaincies, and from receiving College endorsement for prestigious fellowships.
Khurana said in Dec. 2017 that the College planned to finalize a plan for enforcing the penalties by the start of this semester. On Friday, he specified that the Office of Student Life has been “charged with the implementation” of the sanctions and will debut the enforcement mechanism to students.
Asked twice when the Office plans to publish the plan, Khurana did not directly answer. He said the Office has not yet published the enforcement mechanism because it is still finalizing the details.
“Our focus is to really get this right. I think it’s important,” he said. “Obviously we’re not going to get everything right the whole time.”
The Office of Student Life could continue to tweak the recommendations even after staffers send the plan to students, Khurana said.
“It would be great to have a detailed blueprint but [we’re] probably going to have to—once we get the framework—continue to work as we sort of adjust specific issues and questions come up,” he said.
Khurana also repeatedly declined to detail the specifics of the College’s plan for implementing the sanctions. Instead, he pointed to previous reports produced by two separate committees, each charged with reviewing the policy.
Khurana said he will look to recommendations from one of the two committees in particular. That report suggested the College’s Honor Council should help enforce the sanctions and that all-female groups should have a five-year grace period to go gender neutral. It also suggested the College should consider barring members of single-gender groups from leadership roles in both the Undergraduate Council and The Crimson as well as all other recognized student groups.
Khurana declined to answer questions asking whether the Office of Student Life’s enforcement plan will follow these exact recommendations. As he said in Dec. 2017, Khurana said the final plan will seek to advance “the spirit of the policy.”
“Again, I think, in the coming period you will hear all the details around those specific questions,” he said.
Khurana said that—even though the Office of Student Life has yet to release its plan—he thinks students “are pretty clear about what the policy is.” He added he thinks students understand which social groups are still subject to the sanctions and which are not.
“The implementation committee and the faculty committee reports actually, if you look at them, are pretty clear about the organizations, the social organizations,” he said.
In December, Khurana said he was aware students might be confused about the policy and that he hoped to clear up any uncertainty as soon as possible.
“We ask people’s patience while we make sure that we send clear information and clear guidelines,” he said at the time. “We can’t answer all questions right now. I apologize to the students who have those questions.”
The Office of Student Life is now working to define exactly how the policy will apply to “organizations that are moving toward gender inclusion or need some guidance about how they move in that direction,” Khurana said.
The announcement of the sanctions has already prompted a number of social groups to go co-ed. The Spee Club permanently adopted gender neutral recruitment practices before the policy was announced. The Seneca, a formerly all-female club went co-ed in fall 2016. This fall, the traditionally female Sablière Society, Kappa Sigma, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Kappa Kappa Gamma decided to admit all genders.
Some social groups have taken the opposite route, choosing to defy the College’s penalties. Harvard’s chapters of Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, and Kappa Alpha Theta announced in December they planned to continue with their standard female-only recruitment practices for members of the Class of 2021.
—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.
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