A Harvard University committee is looking to ban any and all social organization or club in the name of inclusivity.
In a 22-page report obtained by the education rights group, FIRE, Harvard could be banning all single-gender and co-ed clubs as well as all “fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations.” If the recommendations are implemented, Harvard could sanction any student who does join a group during their time enrolled in the school.
Specifically, the report states, “Harvard students may neither join nor participate in final clubs, fraternities or sororities, or other similar private, exclusionary social organizations that are exclusively or predominantly made up of Harvard students, whether they have any local or national affiliation, during their time in the College. The College will take disciplinary action against students who are found to be participating in such organizations. Violations will be adjudicated by the Administrative Board.”
In addition to having a “blacklist” on students from obtaining athletic team captainships or academic scholarships, the Harvard committee’s new proposal would violate the students’ right to freedom of association. However, Harvard isn’t the first college to come up with such a proposal. They’re following in the footsteps of Williams College and Bowdoin College.
However, not all board members are on board. In a dissenting opinion section offered in the report, the only member who objected to the proposal, David Haig, a biology and genetics professor, wrote that this was incompatible with being a Harvard student. He even said it “proposes an escalation of the conflict between unrecognized social organizations and Harvard College.”
Haig continued. “The sanctions policies have involved a conflict between competing goods: on the one hand, respect for student autonomy and freedom of association; on the other hand, nondiscrimination and inclusivity. The report strongly favors the latter over the former goods. I continue to favor a balance more on the side of student autonomy because I am unconvinced that the policy, when implemented, will solve the latter problems.”
At the moment, it’s unclear if President Drew Faust and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Mike Smith would accept such a motion, as Haig told FIRE, he’ll try to return from Australia while he’s on sabbatical to fight the committee’s proposal.