Harvard Task Force Discusses Possible Ban On Students Joining All-Male Clubs or Associations

Harvard-seal-3There is a controversy surrounding a suggestion that appeared as part of a sexual assault study conduct by a Harvard task force that would bar students from joining its all-male final clubs. Such exclusive clubs are denounced as perpetuating a “harmful sexual culture.” Notably, these are private all-male organizations with no relationship with the university but the task force suggests that it could dictate such associations for its students. The report focuses on all-male rather than all-female clubs. These clubs are characterized as having “men in positions of power engaging with women on unequal and too often on very sexual terms.” While it is not clear what support this “idea” for possible action has garnered at the school, conservative publications have said that there have already been threats about disciplinary actions for students associating with such clubs. It is important to note that this does not appear to be the thrust of the report (which is linked below), which suggests a wide range of remedial and preventive measures. The main concern is an appendix associated with the task force, available here. One of the ideas is “Either don’t allow simultaneous membership in Final Clubs and College enrollment; or allow Clubs to transition to all-gender inclusion with equal gender membership and leadership.”

The suggestion of a ban on “simultaneous membership in final clubs and college enrollment” is unnerving for many. The suggestion is that clubs may be put on lists to allow the school to “provisionally register[ing] all-gender clubs for monitoring” and “requir[ing] they have ongoing sexual assault education and assigned sober bystanders at social events.”

The task force added “Students understand that Harvard’s centuries-long history as a predominantly white male institution creates an imprint on their educational experience, but they expect to see progress moving forward.”

The task force added that statistics support the notion that sexual assaults are more likely with members of the all-male clubs.

Witnesses reportedly said that Stephanie Khurana, a task force member and one of the campus dorm heads threatened to seek expulsion for students who joined the clubs subject to expulsion.

It is unclear what Harvard would do with its various women-only clubs. The statements from the task force were directed at male-only clubs. The report says “Cultures that reflect male control and exclusivity encourage the marginalization of women and assumptions about sexual entitlement.”

We have been discussing the rapid decline of free speech rights at universities and colleges in this country. This report reflects a similar attack on associational rights. If the university wants to ban all exclusive clubs and organizations, including all-female organizations, and force diversity among memberships, it would have a more principled positions to advance. However, it is problematic to characterize all-male clubs as raw example of male domination while accepting all-female clubs as examples of empowerment. Ironically, we discussed a few years ago how Harvard had no difficulty in excluding males from work out facility to guarantee women-only programs. These moves reflect an abandonment of long-standing efforts to achieve gender and racial equality. Instead, the new movement seeks to selectively fight segregation in some areas while embracing it in other areas.

I have serious qualms about colleges dictating what organizations are acceptable for students, particularly organization not associated or funded by the university. Should students also be disciplined for being a patron at restaurants deemed sexist like Hooters or strip clubs? If students are to be punished for their associations that “reflect male control and exclusivity,” then what is the distinction when those students regularly go to businesses deemed to have the same sexist profile?

The use of university authority to force students to adhere to mandated values or approved associations is deeply troubling. I have no problem with advocates calling for male students to avoid such clubs and to discourage female students from attending parties at the clubs. However, in the end, these are adult students who should be allowed to make their own choices, even if the task force deems them bad choices. In the name of gender equality, such moves eviscerate values of free speech and association.

Once again, this suggestion was in an appendix and many of the findings of the task force are insightful and useful. However, given the comprehensive attack on free speech on our campuses, the suggestion of such a rule is unnerving for many.

What do you think?

Here is the report: Sexual Assault Task Force

37 thoughts on “Harvard Task Force Discusses Possible Ban On Students Joining All-Male Clubs or Associations”

  1. It is unclear what Harvard would do with its various women-only clubs. The statements from the task force were directed at male-only clubs.

    That’s a pretty clear Title IX violation, someone report them.

  2. What disturbs me is this trend in universities to view men, especially white male students, as ticking time bombs, the enemy, inherently dangerous, and in the case of a he said she said situation, automatically wrong with no recourse.

  3. Advise not require. However, maybe some sex & alcohol session might be required. That was tried here for two years. Does not appear to have continued nor needed any longer.

  4. followed by banning memberships in clubs that aren’t “membership-appropriate”, meaning having membership rolls proportionate to the population in terms of sexual self-identification and sexual orientation

  5. When I was in high school we had a “final club” which we shared. If somebody got too far out of line we would borrow the class final club and wack that person with it.

  6. That’s why this is called a final club – this is the final club you can join before you graduate.

  7. I did not know that Harvard banned fraternities. Someone tell the story.

  8. From the actual study:

    “The task force included data that 16 percent of sexual assaults on the school’s property happened in spaces used by single-sex organizations, but the final clubs are off-campus. And 87 percent of sexual assaults happened in school dorms.”

    It seems rather ironic that such an esteemed university’s task force could come up a conclusion so wholly disconnected from the results of the study. 87% of the rapes happen in dorm rooms, and they want to blame male clubs located off campus?

    I went to a different university, and we girls were advised not to go to a guy’s dorm room, not to drink the punch (it’s really high proof), travel in a group, and look out for each other. You know – common sense. Young men and women + alcohol + available bedrooms = high rate of hookups and the possibility of worse. That’s true for frat parties, regular parties, clubs, raves, and anywhere that you have young people + alcohol.

    And, having a roommate and friends who were sorority girls, I can tell you that Sorority Parties are young men and women + alcohol, too.

    It’s surreal to have to explain this to a university, but students have the right to associate with whomever they please. In fact, the reason why there are all girl schools is because they have found that such a division has educational benefits for the girls.

    Speaking of final clubs, does anyone know why Harvard banned fraternities?

  9. (music- to the tune of Henry The Eighth I am I am)

    MY Daddy was a Har Vard Man.
    He let me pee in a garbage can.
    We got friendly with the people next door!
    They had moonshine many times galore.
    But every drunk was a Harvard man.
    It couldnt be a Willy or a Fred.
    For there ain’t no drunks like a Harvard Man.
    Harvard The Eighth I am.

  10. @Elmer Fudd

    True, “sh___t” would have worked, too, but I was trying to be polite! 🙂

    But IIRC there is one about bathroom humor:

    In days of old,
    When Knights weren’t bold,
    And “White Flags” weren’t invented. . .
    They’d poop their greaves
    Then wipe with leaves,
    And run away contented!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  11. Here is one for Squeeky. This is a true story about a cop’s testimony in a courtroom in Saint Louis about forty years ago.

    The prosecutor has the cop name Officer Krumpke on the stand and is asking questions:

    Prosecutor: “So, you drove up and parked behind them and walked up to the car. That much you told us. Then what did you see.”
    “Well, your Honor, they were f __ing.”
    Judge: “Contempt of Court! You are fined ten dollars!”

    Prosecutor: Officer Krumpke, describe it more courteously without he cuss words”;

    “His shirt was hanging in a tree.
    His pants were down below his knees.
    Her’s was out and his was in…
    and if that ain’t fu___in the fine me ten.”

    Judge: “So ordered.”

    Prosecutor: “That will be all.”

  12. Here I sit in Harvard Yard.
    My tail is longer than a tard.
    But when I sit broken hearted.
    Its because I tried to itShay but only farted.
    I wish I may.
    I hope I might.
    Get drunk at Harvard this Friday night.
    That will be when women get.
    To sit on Jethroh’s shiny head.
    It that ain”t cussin then fine me ten.

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