Fraternities and sororities have always been part of the college experience for generations of young people. In addition to those, many other social clubs have operated offering men and women a place to gather with likeminded individuals in a space made just for them. However, a faculty committee at Harvard is pushing to do away with any single-gender social clubs on campus.
The Committee on Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations (yes, this exists) is pushing for the dismantle of all clubs that are single-gender. For example, any women’s social clubs wouldn’t be allowed to operate unless they welcomed men and folks who identify as non-binary.
The controversial decision was made at Harvard last year to disqualify any students who are leaders within social clubs that operated as single-gender from leading other organizations on campus, as well as within athletic programs. Those students are also ineligible for letters of recommendation and certain scholarships.
The faculty committee released a report recommending that students entering Harvard from the class of 2022 and beyond be banned from joining “fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations.” The recommendation also refers to “final clubs,” which are social clubs—traditionally all-male—that aren’t recognized by Harvard. Single-gender clubs were unofficially recognized by Harvard in the 1980s after many refused to allow women to be admitted.
Many students aren’t happy with the decision made by the committee and some have protested decisions made against clubs. For example, one club for women held a protest last year highlighting the need for women-only spaces as well as the need for men-only spaces. The spaces can be used for collaboration, support, socializing, or just unwinding in a comfortable setting.
There are those who see harm in such gatherings because they aren’t inclusive. My biggest problem is that everyone should be free to organize and assemble how and where they would like. Why would anyone want to be part of an organization that isn’t designed for them? It defeats the purpose of creating an environment specifically for one group. There are so many ideas floating around on college campuses, I’m sure someone could come up with a Crybaby Club for everyone who feels entitled to force themselves on someone else’s space.
Since Harvard doesn’t recognize the types of clubs that the faculty committee wants to shut down, how do they have any say over how students choose to assemble in their own free time? It sounds an awful lot like the committee wants to infringe on Harvard students and their right to assemble freely.
The entire gender debate has gotten ridiculously out of hand. While there are issues that should be addressed, such incidents resulting in injury or death, for those who are operating within the parameters of the law, it’s not right to dictate how they gather. For those who are uncomfortable with lawfully operated social clubs, there are options to stay away from them or find a club where they fit in if that’s the desired route.