Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations

Harvard College Social Organizations Policy

  • Harvard College brings together bright and talented students from all walks of life to form a community of learning that facilitates their intellectual, personal, and social transformation. To advance the mission of educating leaders and responsible citizens who are prepared to serve a global and diverse society, the College works to embody an inclusive and non-discriminatory community of learning. 
  • Diversity is central to our mission, as well as to our understanding of an effective educational environment in which students learn from exploring their differences. It is central to our obligations to society and to our students. It is central to the very organization of the College, which emphasizes a residential undergraduate experience where students are randomly assigned to Houses as a means of maximizing each student’s exposure to people unlike themselves. 
  • Unrecognized single-gender social organizations (USGSOs), including final clubs, sororities, and fraternities, run counter to Harvard's long-standing non-discrimination principles, and have an outsized and negative impact on the social and personal experiences of Harvard College students. This impact has been observed and described by multiple College Visiting Committees, and by College and University committees, including most recently the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault and the USGSO Faculty Committee. 
  • In May 2016, Harvard College announced a new policy stating that beginning with the class of 2021, undergraduates at Harvard College, who are also members of USGSOs, will not be permitted to hold leadership positions in recognized student organizations or on athletic teams and that they will also not be eligible for letters of recommendation from the Danoff Dean of Harvard College for scholarship opportunities, including the Rhodes and the Marshall. 
  • Over the past two academic years, the Harvard community – faculty, staff, and students – has engaged in robust discussion about how the University should address the many issues presented by USGSOs, including discussion of the May 2016 policy. 
  • On December 5, 2017, it was announced that the Corporation, of which President Drew Faust was a member, voted to adopt one of the three options presented by the USGSO Faculty Committee: namely that the existing policy, adopted in May 2016, should remain in place. 
  • The Corporation has also voted that the policy be reviewed after five years to determine its effectiveness in addressing these issues and to determine whether revisions are warranted.

Statement by Harvard President Drew Faust and Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Bill Lee on Unrecognized Single Gender Social Organizations

Danoff Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana Letter to Students

Policy on unrecognized single-gender social organizations to remain: Harvard Corporation vote seeks to uphold University's commitment to diversity and includion (Harvard Gazette, December 5, 2017)

Perspectives on Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations