- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2016

Harvard University has announced plans to ban undergraduate members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations from holding official leadership positions at the school.

University President Drew Faust announced the decision Friday in an email to undergraduates, ending months of speculation, The Harvard Crimson reported.

“Although the fraternities, sororities, and final clubs are not formally recognized by the College, they play an unmistakable and growing role in student life, in many cases enacting forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values,” Ms. Faust wrote. “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.”

The decision comes in response to the recommendations of a university-wide report on sexual assault prevention, led by Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, who called the single-gender clubs, known as final clubs, “preserves of men” that promote “exclusionary values,” Campus Reform reported.

“[T]he discriminatory membership policies of these organizations have led to the perpetuation of spaces that are rife with power imbalances,” Mr. Khurana wrote in a separate letter to students Friday, Campus Reform reported. “The most entrenched of these spaces send an unambiguous message that they are the exclusive preserves of men. In their recruitment practices and through their extensive resources and access to networks of power, these organizations propagate exclusionary values that undermine those of the larger Harvard College community.”

Ms. Faust said the policy would bar final club members from captaincies, leadership positions, and fellowships. It’s set to begin with the freshman class that enters in fall 2017.

Final clubs have reportedly operated on Harvard’s campus for hundreds of years. They are traditionally male-only, and several still exclude women, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Khurana hinted that the final clubs that choose to adopt gender neutral policies could gain access to “certain Harvard facilities, among other possibilities to be determined by the advisory group,” The Harvard Crimson reported.

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