Published: Thu, July 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Harvard looks to kill Greek life

Harvard looks to kill Greek life

The committee has apparently modeled this new proposal on policies in place at Williams College and Bowdoin College, both of which forbid undergraduates from joining social clubs.

The committee will gather input this fall before making a final recommendation.

The rules would apply to the social clubs, which have an outsize influence on undergraduate life and grant members access to a powerful network of contacts, whether they are single-gender or co-ed.

The recommendation comes after the college in 2016 announced that students who participate in single-gender final clubs and Greek life would be kept from holding sports leadership positions or getting endorsements for prestigious fellowships. Last year, Harvard's "Task Force On Sexual Assault Prevention" released a sharp criticism of final clubs which were perceived to contain and exhibit "deeply misogynistic attitudes". Numerous clubs date back to the 1800s or earlier and have an impressive alumni list; Theodore Roosevelt was a member of one called the Porcellian Club. According to a school survey published a year ago, 47 percent of female seniors who interacted socially with clubs experienced non-consensual sexual contact.

To be clear, fraternities and final clubs are not the same thing.

The proposal would apply to incoming freshmen in the fall of 2018, while those who are now enrolled and matriculating this fall would be exempt.

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Disciplinary action will be imposed on a student of the university who participates in these groups, often Greek-letter societies.

Although Harvard doesn't officially recognize fraternities or sororities, there are several local chapters open to Harvard students. There's not yet enough information about how students actually feel about the group, he writes.

Why do these folks want to curtail the freedom of students to associate as they see fit? "We urge Harvard to focus on creating a culture of health and safety on campus that also respects students' rights". The aim is to completely phase out "unrecognized single-gender social organizations", referred to as USGSOs, by May 2022. That policy drew pushback from students and some faculty, leading administrators to convene the new committee to revisit the issue. More recently, some schools have banned alcohol at fraternity parties following student deaths.

The Harvard committee said its proposal is partly a reaction to those types of stories.

The committee explained the recommendation is mostly a "preventative" measure, sparked in part by "tragic events relating to hazing and excessive drinking at campuses across America".

But not all committee members agree with the recommendation.

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