On Friday, it was announced that beginning with the 2017 freshman class, any student at Harvard who participates in a single sex organization at the university, such as 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. And now it looks like we aren’t the only ones who think this move is not only completely ridiculous, but that it also completely defeats its own purpose.
On Monday, leaders from the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO) and the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA), issued a joint statement on the move by Harvard.
Joint Statement from Dani Weatherford, executive director of the National Panhellenic Conference; Francisco Lugo, commissioner of member services for the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations; Judson Horras, president and CEO of the North-American Interfraternity Conference; and Mark Koepsell, executive director and CEO of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors:
“While we understand and share Harvard’s goals of creating a safe and equitable environment for students, we are discouraged and disappointed by the policy announced Friday, as it mistakenly assumes the way to achieve those ends is to punish students for participating in single-gender organizations. We urge Harvard to reconsider this policy. Not only does it deny students the basic right of free association, it penalizes them for involvement in fraternities and sororities — experiences that foster leadership, personal growth and the very sense of engagement college is designed to create.”
Additional Statement from Weatherford, National Panhellenic Conference:
“Sorority membership calls on women to empower each other and provides powerful spaces of support, something as important today as it has ever been. We strongly encourage our Harvard colleagues to consider the ramifications this policy shift will have on programs and opportunities for women on campus. While we support efforts to forcefully address sexual assault on every campus, punishing women for being members of single-gender organizations is not the answer.”
Additional Statement from Lugo, National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations
“Students in culturally-based fraternities and sororities are also punished by Harvard’s policy. Our organizations provide a powerful experience for underrepresented students, and if Harvard is seeking to make campus more inclusive and equitable, removing opportunities for these students goes directly against that goal.”
Additional Statement from Horras, North-American Interfraternity Conference:
“This policy not only violates student rights, it takes focus off real issues around campus safety. Our organizations and the university need to get back to the problem at hand — reducing violence. The NIC represents a diverse range of fraternities — including historically black, multicultural and emerging organizations — and our member groups stand ready to come to the table as willing partners to improve campus communities.”
Your move, Harvard..
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