What if you could be penalized for participating in your sisterhood? What if it was in the name of gender inclusion and sexual assault prevention? Well, if you go to Harvard, that’s pretty soon going to be the case.
Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust announced on Friday that, beginning with the 2017 freshman class, any student who participates in a single sex organization at the university, such a fraternity, sorority or final club (which are also single-sex social clubs) will not be eligible for leadership positions in other student organizations, such as clubs or sports teams. Additionally, those students will not receive letters of recommendation from the Dean for fellowships like the Rhodes Scholarship or Marshall Scholarship.
The move comes as the university’s single-sex groups are being pushed to allow both genders, as a step toward gender equality on campus and an attempt at lowering cases of sexual assault. According to TIME, “The announcement comes just two months after a college-wide report found that 47% of female seniors who had participated in such groups had experienced some form of non-consensual sexual contact. Among total seniors, that number was 31%, suggesting that students who participated in the what’s known as the final club scene (including going to related parties) were significantly more likely to be the victims of sexual assault.”
Now, to be fair, single sex groups are technically not allowed at the university, so it does stand to reason that participating in them is a violation of rules. But despite the fact that they are banned, the groups are quite prominent on the Boston-area campus. So let’s be serious here – is punishing people who participate them really going to do any good at either promoting gender inclusion or reducing cases of sexual assault?
Of course not. It’s simply going to drive such groups underground, and fear of either getting yourself or your organization in trouble is going to mean that people who are actually assaulted will be less likely to report. Meaning the move is going to do exactly the opposite of what it supposedly aims to accomplish. You’d think that the people that are in charge of one of the most prestigious universities in the world would have been able to figure that out before implementing this ridiculous rule. .