Ivy League fraternity men got some earth-shattering news back in May when the Harvard administration announced far-reaching sanctions against all unrecognized “single gender” organizations. In posting these sanctions, Harvard’s president Drew Faust and Dean of College Rakesh Khurana essentially declared war against Harvard’s Greek and Greek-like organizations, including the elite (and very Harvard) “Final Clubs” by banning them from numerous university positions and services.
Shocking. But what shouldn’t surprise anyone is that at the world’s top law school, one organization has lawyered up.
Lawyers for the Fly Club have stated that the Harvard sanctions are a predatory, vindictive, and illegal assault on the fundamental make-up of these organizations.
From The Harvard Crimson:
“Under the Massachusetts constitution… there is a minimal level of fair dealing that a private association owes to its members,” Silverglate said in a May interview. “That doctrine has been held to apply to the obligations of private universities to its students.”
The center of controversy appears to be the administration’s effort to subtly and not-so-subtly force the single-gendered clubs to become gender neutral. Dean Khurana has publicly hinted that sanctions would be relaxed for clubs which choose to become “inclusive to all.” She has also said the university would consider stricter measures in the future if clubs do not conform that could include barring student participation in these organizations entirely under penalty of registration restrictions.
Imagine your school coming into your fraternity house and saying, “You guys have been an all men’s organization for 100 years on this campus. Who cares though? This is 2016, not 1916. Start admitting women now or we’ll reduce your status on campus to essentially that of second-class students. And we’ll probably eventually expel you too anyways.” Or even weirder, a sorority being told it has to admit men.
Only at Harvard.
I’m not personally opposed to change, or even opening up traditionally single-gendered organizations to all genders. Maybe in the future, single-gendered frats and sororities will seem strange to our grandkids. Who knows?
What I am opposed to is trying to alter the foundational identity of an organization by force and without its consent. If these clubs (as some of them have) choose to become more open, good. But they have to do it of their own volition.
Good on you, Fly Club. Tell the administration respect goes both ways.
[via The Harvard Crimson]
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