Harvard is looking to be more inclusive after the "harmful impact" that discrimination has had on their students. They've stated that, starting in Fall 2017, any new students who join unrecognized gender-specific clubs, will not have the ability to hold a leadership position in recognized student organizations or athletic teams. This is an attempt by the school to eliminate all single-gender clubs that discriminate against students of the opposite gender, different sexuality or race.
"A Truly inclusive community requires that students have the opportunity to participate in the life of the campus free from exclusion on arbitrary grounds," Undergraduate President Drew Faust said. This rule also applies to fraternities, sororities and final clubs, Faust continued, "The College cannot ignore these organizations if it is to advance our shared commitment to broadening opportunity and making Harvard a campus for all of its students."
Harvard has a long history with gender discrimination, going as far back as before Radcliffe was chartered. The college grew even more concerned when, in the 1970s, the single-gender membership of final clubs was being questioned as undermining students' intellectual and social environment on campus. It was in 1984 when "formal ties" were cut between the university and these clubs, when these clubs refused to admit women.
The dean said that these changes will not affect current members and students: "Harvard has the obligation to establish the general regulations and standards governing Harvard students, faculty, and staff that are consistent with our educational philosophy." He stated that this includes students of different genders, gender identity, sexual orientation and racial and ethnic background.
Furthermore, the college is emphasizing that this new policy will not affect students' choice to make their own decisions while at Harvard. Instead, it is about is focused "exclusively" on what the college decides to sponsor and endorse, as it operates under its name.
Rev. Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church said, "The intent is neither to demonize nor degenerate any group on campus. All of us must pay attention to how our actions impact the larger community. When our associations and communities of support shift from nurturing those within to diminishing those without, they are no longer consistent with the principles of a positive learning community."
Lead Image Credit: Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) via Wikimedia Commons