Faculty Social Group Policy Committee to Add Members

{shortcode-bf903d1ed01af0ca2288ea6b0e54f57bb14d9dd5}Despite the announcement of 19 members Tuesday, the composition of a faculty committee tasked with re-examining a controversial College policy on social groups is still in flux, according to Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith.

Roughly half a dozen students will be added to the committee in the coming days, along with additional faculty and staff members not originally announced earlier this week, Smith said in an interview on Thursday. The committee’s co-chairs, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana and music professor Suzannah Clark will select the students on the committee.

“I’m really not the right person to be choosing the students, so I’ve delegated that to the co-chairs and asked Susie and Rakesh to think about it,” Smith said. “I’m obviously looking at making sure that we’ve got a good, thoughtful grouping of students.”

Smith said the “handful of students” would likely include members of the Undergraduate Council. He added, however, that he preferred to keep the committee small.

“I want that committee to be actually able to have conversations. If you get too many people in a room you can’t actually have conversations,” Smith said.


Shortly after Smith’s email to the Faculty, Naisha Bradley, director of the Harvard College Women's Center, was added as another member of the committee.

Starting with the class of 2021, the controversial policy bars members of single-gender final clubs and Greek organizations from holding leadership positions in clubs or varsity teams and from being recommended for a number of postgraduate fellowships. Khurana announced the penalties in May 2015, and he now leads the committee that could revise or replace the policy.

Smith said part of the impetus for appointing Khurana, one of the policy’s original architects, as co-chair of the committee was to include faculty and staff with deep commitments to the policy in addition to those with no opinions on it.

“We’re getting closer and closer to the time period in which students will actually be affected by this. Instead of putting another stage in the process, let’s have the College deeply involved in this,” Smith said. “So we kind of got that balance between the College and Rakesh’s depth of knowledge from working on this for a long time, and a new perspective coming in.”

Smith announced the composition of the faculty committee, including the promise of future student membership, in an email to Faculty members Tuesday afternoon. Khurana announced the existence of the new committee following months of intense debate among Faculty members in the fall. During those meetings, some professors criticized College administrators for what they saw as a lack of faculty consultation prior to the policy's rollout, a charge Smith deemed “categorically false” in December.

“I certainly had a few people write to me and say that they would be interested and were offering to be members of the committee,” Smith said. “So I looked through all those different lists and tried to find people that I thought were interested on this topic, were thoughtful on this topic, could represent our diversity of views.”

The creation of the new faculty committee drew criticism in a Monday report from a separate committee tasked with crafting recommendations for the policy’s implementation. That committee did not know about the faculty committee until shortly before it was publicly announced. The implementation committee’s report pointed to the creation of a second committee as an obstacle to candid discussion.

“Could we have communicated better to the implementation committee along the way, and then they wouldn’t have had as many questions?” Smith said. “Probably.”

Smith said the committee will begin meeting after spring break. They’ll present their findings to University President Drew G. Faust in early fall 2017.

—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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