Tuesday marks the first time that the full Faculty of Arts and Sciences will discuss a motion opposing the College’s controversial policy on unrecognized single-gender social organizations.
Under the policy, undergraduates starting with the Class of 2021, who belong to those organizations— primarily final clubs, fraternities, and sororities—will be ineligible for leadership roles in recognized student groups and for Harvard’s endorsement for prestigious fellowships.
The motion, which 12 professors submitted last May, states that “Harvard College shall not discriminate against students on the basis of organizations they join.” Its signatories argue the policy infringes upon students’ freedom of association.
The Faculty originally was slated to discuss the motion last month. But Harry R. Lewis ’68, a vocal opponent of the new penalties and a signatory of the motion, said some miscommunications between himself and members of the Faculty Council, FAS’s highest elected body, spurred his decision to move the discussion to the November meeting.
The earliest date for a potential vote on the motion is December, in accordance with FAS meeting policies, Lewis wrote earlier in October. It is unclear, however, whether a Faculty vote in favor of the motion would override the College policy.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Faculty will vote on whether to delegate to the Faculty Council the power to recommend the rescission of degrees from the College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Harvard Extension School, according to a copy of the meeting agenda obtained by The Crimson. If the Faculty approve the proposal, at least two-thirds of the Council present at a given Council meeting will need to vote in favor of revoking a degree for that degree to be rescinded.
Currently, rescission cases from the College, GSAS, and the Extension School must come before the full Faculty. In October 2009, the Faculty delegated to the Faculty Council the power to expel College or GSAS students.
According to agenda item on Tuesday’s meeting docket, “Though rescission cases are very rare, they, like cases of expulsion and dismission, can involve personal and complicated details that can be better handled by a smaller body, which can conduct a full and complete review of such serious cases.”
The Faculty Council would summarize any decisions it made about degree rescission to the full Faculty at the next meeting following such a decision. In addition, for any given case, Faculty Council members with conflicts of interest would not be present for discussion and voting on those cases.
The Faculty and the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, must approve the proposal for it to go into effect.
On Tuesday, members of FAS will also vote on updated procedures for Faculty Council elections, according to the meeting agenda.
The updates clarify some of the language used to describe the Faculty Council election process, including what kinds of Faculty members can hold one of the 18 Faculty Council seats. Nine Faculty members will be elected from three divisional areas—Arts and Humanities, Natural and Applied Sciences, and Social Sciences—and the remaining nine positions are “At-Large seats.”
While a previous iteration of the Council procedures stated that “any voting member” of FAS may run for an At-Large seat, the new wording states that “[a]ny ladder or senior non-ladder member (a professor of any rank, a senior lecturer, or a senior preceptor)” may stand for election to an “at-large seat.” In both versions of the elections policy, the “at-large” candidate cannot also run for a divisional seat, and the candidate’s given department must not already have two members on the Council.
The phrase “ladder or senior non-ladder member,” replaces the former phrase “voting member,” throughout the updated Faculty Council election procedure policy.
—Staff writer Melissa C. Rodman can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @melissa_rodman.
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Why I Cannot Vote Yes or No on the Lewis MotionGiven the wording of the motion, a “no” vote would be, in effect, a vote in favor of discrimination. Voting “no,” with its absolutely false suggestion that the Harvard Faculty embraces discrimination, would do real harm to the Faculty and Harvard more generally.
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