Faculty Likely to Vote on Lewis Motion Tuesday

In a move that could further complicate the future of Harvard’s social group policy, faculty are scheduled to vote on a motion opposing the sanctions this Tuesday—more than a year after the policy first ignited boisterous faculty debate.

Former Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 introduced the motion at the October Faculty meeting; it it states that Harvard College shall not “discipline, penalize, or otherwise sanction students” for joining “any lawful organization.”

{shortcode-fc96c9766c5a9938e7794199fed30604da4e5d3a} It remains unclear what effect the Lewis motion would have on College’s stance towards final clubs, sororities, and fraternities if it passes. In an interview last month, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith said that the best-case scenario is to have Faculty and administrators reach widespread agreement.

“The best outcome for us is to have the Faculty, administration, President, Corporation all agree that this is right for us,” he said. “If we’re not there, we don’t have a solution.”

This motion comes in response to a May 2016 policy that, starting with the class of 2021, forbids members of final clubs and Greek organizations from holding club leadership positions or athletic team captaincies, or being recommended for certain postgraduate fellowships.


This policy, however, is subject to change: University President Drew G. Faust will choose from one of three options outlined in a report from a committee convened to reevaluate the policy. She said in an interview on Friday that she will make her decision before the end of her tenure as president in June.

Because of unusually large anticipated attendance due to the vote, the meeting will be held in Science Center C instead of University Hall. There is a chance, however, that the meeting will conclude before Faculty have a chance to vote: Last year, Faust wrapped up the December Faculty meeting before a vote on a similar Lewis motion could take place.

Government professor Danielle S. Allen’s social policy motion, which received unanimous support from the Faculty Council in September, would also have been eligible for a Faculty vote this November. However, Allen withdrew her motion last month, writing that her motion was “too technical” and “too subtle.”

Allen wrote that she would instead be supporting East Asian Languages and Civilizations Professor David L. Howell’s motion, which will be introduced at the meeting. The motion moves that the Faculty recognize that basic rights and freedoms may come into conflict with each other at Harvard, and in these cases “it is the responsibility of the faculty and administration of Harvard College to establish policies that protect individual freedoms and rights while upholding the educational mission of the College.”

The Faculty will also discuss a proposal to move Faculty meeting times up to 3:00 pm instead of the traditional 4:00 p.m. and extend the length of Faculty meetings to two hours rather than an hour and a half.

They will also begin debate over a proposal from Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris, to restructure how Harvard College students cross-register with peer institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Under Harris’s proposal, students will only be allowed to receive a maximum of eight credits through cross registration.

Finally, Allen will also present the preliminary recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion.

—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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