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Harvard Corporation finalizes single-gender organization sanctions policy

After a nearly two-year-long process, the Harvard Corporation announced earlier this month that the original blacklist policy against members of unrecognized single gender organizations will be enacted as early as next semester, effectively ending freedom of association at Harvard. The policy was first proposed by Dean Rakesh Khurana in May 2016.

The Harvard Corporation consists of 14 members and includes the president of Harvard University, noted sanctions proponent Drew Faust. Despite disciplinary issues being traditionally under faculty governance at Harvard, the Corporation is Harvard’s highest governing body, and theirs is considered to be the final say. The Corporation even announced that Faust’s successor next year will not have a say in the policy.

Under the original sanctions policy, members of the class of 2021 and forward who are found to be members of single-gender organizations will be barred from leadership positions on campus, including registered student organizations and sports teams. They will also be barred from candidacy for prestigious scholarships such as the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. They will, however, remain in “good” academic standing.

Beyond this, little is known about this policy, and further details are promised next semester, when the policy is scheduled to take effect. We would expect more transparency from almost any other school, but for Harvard, this is par for the course.

This fight is not over by a long shot. The sororities Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, and Kappa Kappa Gamma have already indicated their intent to defy this illiberal policy, releasing a joint statement saying, in part, “Harvard’s sanctions claim to support women’s right to make their own decisions, these sanctions actually force women to choose between the opportunity to have supportive, empowering women-only spaces and external leadership opportunities.”

FIRE commends these students for their courageous stance and highly encourages anyone punished for exercising their freedom of association to reach out to FIRE. But be careful: do not use your Harvard email address.

Harvard’s previous assaults on free association ultimately met with well-deserved demise and opprobrium. This one is unlikely to be any different. Expect more from FIRE as the situation develops.

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