Back in 2016, Harvard University President Drew Faust sent an email to undergraduate students and the Harvard community, announcing that beginning with the 2017 entering class, undergraduate members of unrecognized single-gender social organizations (called “fraternities and sororities” at normal colleges) would be banned from holding athletic team captaincies and leadership positions in all recognized student groups. They would also be ineligible for College endorsement for top fellowships like the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. I wrote in part,
Let us be clear what Harvard is trying to do here. It is seeking to punish students for their associations and activities unrelated to the school itself, and using its power within the limits of the campus to indoctrinate ideological values and require conduct that is unrelated to education. This is a rejection of the principle of freedom of association, one of those enumerated rights protected by the Ninth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and a cornerstone of American principles. If the college can, in effect, create a blacklist withholding institutional honors from those who choose to belong to an all male or all female club completely distinct from the university, what clearly delineated line prevents the same institution from declaring that membership in the Republican Party, Occupy Wall Street, Americans For Trump or the NAACP are similarly undermining its values?
There is no such line.
But the policy went forward. Then, last July, a Harvard University task force advised banning students from joining any “fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations” as part of a process to phase out the social groups entirely by 2022. The recommendation was not adopted. Now, three sororities (remember, these are off-campus organizations not officially affiliated with Harvard) announced that they will still recruit freshman women next semester.
“This is the spirit in which Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, and Kappa Alpha Theta were established during the early 1870s,” the sororities said in their joint statement, titled, “We Believe Women Should Make Their Own Choices.”
Ah! The magic word “choice”!
Your move, President Faust!
Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta stated in their protest manifesto:
We realize that including freshman women as members in our organizations is in contravention of the current sanctions Harvard’s administration has imposed on single-gender social groups. These sanctions have been touted as a response to the recommendations of a report on sexual assault prevention. Yet penalizing our future members for their involvement in a sorority in reality denies them access to member-driven education and support systems shown to be effective in battling sexual assault, as well as alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and the particular challenges inherent in college life. Further, while 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.
As for the male students, who cares? This is about being fair to women, who deserve fairness, and choice. After all, they say, the idea was to stop men from female students. Why should women have to follow the same rules as the men?
Writes Professor Turley, “I would have hoped for a principled position in favor of free speech and association rights for all students, not just women.”
How naive. Progressive efforts to demonize men and divide society along gender lines have been far too successful on elite college campuses for that, with the #MeToo witch hunts being the latest example.
Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur
Facts: Metro USA