Once Again, Faculty To Debate Social Life Sanctions

One year after Faculty discussion formally began on Harvard’s historic penalties on final clubs and Greek organizations, two critical developments may change the nature of the debate at Tuesday’s meeting of the full Faculty.

In advance of the Faculty meeting, a committee tasked with reviewing and revising the University’s current policy—which bars students in unrecognized social organizations, starting from the class of 2021, from holding athletic team captaincies and club leadership positions or being recommended for certain postgraduate fellowships—released its final report Friday.


Committee co-chair Suzannah E. Clark, a Music professor, will present the report for discussion at the meeting. Watering down an initial proposal to ban social groups entirely, the report presents three options: maintain the current policy, ban membership altogether in unrecognized single-gender social groups, or consider a set of “some other possible solutions.”

Although Faculty will discuss the motion on Tuesday, University President Drew G. Faust has the ultimate authority to choose which option to pursue. Unlike at most meetings, the Faculty will meet in the Science Center Tuesday.


But standing in the way of the committee is a contingent of Faculty members led by former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68. Lewis will introduce his second anti-penalties motion Tuesday, aiming to curbing administrative power over student social life. Per Faculty meeting rules, Lewis’ motion is only up for discussion in October, and would be eligible for a vote as soon as November.

Last year, Lewis presented a similar motion. However, before votes could be cast at the December meeting, Faust abruptly cut proceedings short at the scheduled meeting end time. Lewis rescinded his motion that January after FAS Dean Michael D. Smith formed the Faculty committee.

In addition to the Lewis motion, Government professor Danielle S. Allen will present a sanctions-related motion, also up for discussion only. The motion argues that final clubs are recognized by Massachusetts as “student organizations” and that the policies of the Harvard Student Handbook should apply to members of those organizations.

In its final report, the committee was openly skeptical about the effectiveness of re-recognizing final clubs in an effort to regain administrative control.

Before any social life-related discussion, however, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith will present his annual report.

—Staff writer Joshua J. Florence can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaFlorence1.

–Staff writer Mia C. Karr can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @miackarr.


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