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Harvard may ban all fraternities and sororities

One faculty member said the clubs are where 'students learn to discriminate.'


Ana Valens


Posted on Jul 13, 2017   Updated on May 23, 2021, 12:01 am CDT

At a time when a number of hazing tragedies at American universities have surfaced, Harvard University is contemplating banning its fraternities, sororities, and final clubs for good.

A Harvard University faculty committee has proposed eliminating private and segregated same-gender social groups for all fall of 2018 freshmen, essentially barring the class of 2022 from participating in any form of Greek life or final clubs. The listed proposal, provided by CBS News, looks to ban fraternities and sororities due to “myraid of practices of these organizations that go against the educational mission and principles espoused by Harvard University,” which include gender discrimination, student exclusion, alcohol abuse, and sexual assault.

Concerns originally arose among Harvard students and alumni as survey results revealed that unrecognized single-gender social organizations (USGSOs), such as male fraternities and final clubs, were significantly influencing both campus life and students’ relationship with Harvard, often negatively. As far back as 1988, one Harvard faculty member described final clubs as the area “where Harvard students learn to discriminate.” Others, such as students that participated in final clubs’ “punching” initiation, found admittance and acceptance into a USGSO extremely stressful for a collegiate environment.

“Observe that one student, who belonged to a male final club… had second thoughts about the punch process, especially having just learned three years after the fact of the damaging effect it had on one of his blockmates,” the report states. “His anonymous letter to the Committee articulates clearly why the exclusive practices and destructive conduct… raise questions as to whether any such organization that creates social divisions on a campus should be part of Harvard’s future.”

The proposed ban is inspired in part by measures implemented at Bowdoin College and Williams College, which have both banned enrollment into social clubs. At Harvard, groups would be phased out, and students found participating in a final club or fraternity would be penalized with disciplinary action. However, Harvard students are largely mixed on the ban, with some social club members and alumni criticizing the policy.

“This is absolutely crazy. I’ve been trying to empathize, I really have. But not everyone gets invited to everything. That’s life,” one commenter wrote on the Harvard Crimson‘s story regarding the news. “Phase out and sanction away, but a harsh awakening awaits our peers once they leave the Crimson bubble.”
Meanwhile, others praised the idea, seeing the initiative as a step in the right direction for the university.
“This seems like a deliberate attempt to recenter social life around extracurricular institutions, like the Crimson and Lampoon. Which has its pros and cons, but I think is a marked improvement over anachronistic popularity-contest wealth enclaves,” a student explained.
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*First Published: Jul 13, 2017, 10:07 am CDT