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Harvard's historically all-male a capella group the Din and Tonics admitted its first female member on Saturday, according to a post on the group’s Facebook page.
Karalyn E. Joseph ’21, a soprano in Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, joined three other new inductees to the group, which describes itself on its website as the University’s “signature jazz a cappella group.”
This move marks an about-face from the group's refusal roughly two years ago to offer a callback to a female auditioner despite her "phenomenal" performance," as then-Dins President Jacques Berguig '18 told The Crimson at the time. Berguig explained the rejection by pointing to the group's constitution, which at the time barred women from joining.
The troupe has since updated its constitution to include a clause prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender. The most recent edits to the constitution — available on an internal College website — date to Nov. 2017.
“Membership in the Din & Tonics is open to all students currently enrolled in full time study in a degree granting faculty or school of Harvard University,” the organization’s constitution reads. “The group does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, age, or physical disability.”
The Din and Tonics is one of several capus music groups to adopt gender-neutral membership policies over the past few months. Last spring, the traditionally all-female Radcliffe Choral Society and all-male Harvard Glee Club updated their constitutions to explicitly welcome prospective members of all genders — though ony after receiving administrative pressure to do so.
In Jan. 2018, the Hasty Pudding Theatricals Club, Harvard's premier theatrical group, announced it would admit women into its historically all-male cast. Prior to that decision, women had thrice attended the group’s auditions in protest and over 86 individuals had signed a petition urging a co-ed shift. The Pudding announced Sunday night that it had accepted six women into its cast for the 2018-2019 school year, officially and finally breaking with almost two centuries of precedent.
As Harvard's artistic landscape pivots away from single-sex groups, its social scene is also shifting. Some campus social groups have come under fire from administrators in recent years for their single-gender status. Former University President Drew G. Faust debuted social group sanctions in May 2016 that bar members of unrecognized single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations from holding campus leadership positions, varsity athletic team captancies, and from receiving College endorsement for prestigious fellowships like the Rhodes.
In the years since, over a dozen previously single-gender social groups have gone co-ed or committed to doing so in the near future.
While performing groups are not subject to the sanctions, administrators reached out to Radcliffe Choral Society in spring 2018 asking the group to update its bylaws so it would come into compliance with the “mission of the College.”
Luis B. Valencia ’20, president of the Dins, declined to comment. Joseph, the group’s first female member, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.
—Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.
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