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John Harvard's Journal

Sanctions Scrutinized

March-April 2017

Following months of heated debate within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) over the policy of sanctioning students who belong to unrecognized single-gender social organizations (final clubs, fraternities, sororities), Harvard College dean Rakesh Khurana announced on January 25 that a committee including faculty members, predominantly those holding administrative positions, would convene “to consider whether the policy can be improved, either by changing aspects of its existing structure, or through some broader revision.” That policy, set to take effect with the class of freshmen arriving this August, prevents student members of such organizations from holding leadership positions in recognized undergraduate organizations, and precludes their eligibility for Rhodes, Marshall, and other scholarships that require College endorsement. When announced last spring, the policy drew criticism from faculty members and students alike. And in an Undergraduate Council referendum question last fall, students favoring repeal of the sanctions outnumbered those who supported them by a two to one ratio.

Khurana said the committee will conclude its work by the end of this academic year and present its recommendations in the fall, with time allowed for broader faculty input before the proposed guidelines are forwarded to President Drew Faust for approval. In the meantime, the current policy remains in effect.

Discussion of the sanctions, which were announced without prior vote of the faculty, consumed the better part of the November and December faculty meetings. Khurana’s announcement led former College dean Harry R. Lewis to withdraw his motion opposing the sanctions, discussion of which would likely have continued at the February 7 faculty meeting (after this issue went to press). For more background, see harvardmag.com/finalclub-review-17.

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