Around New England

U.S. Senator Calls on Harvard To Abandon Anti-Single-Sex-Organizations Policy

April 22, 2019

Indiana U.S. Senator Mike Braun has called on Harvard to reconsider its policy of withholding certain benefits to students who belong to single-sex organizations.

Braun, a Republican and a graduate of Harvard Business School, said he is worried about future attempts at social engineering by the university.

“At what point will Harvard interfere in student membership in religious or political organizations it deems undesirable?” Braun wrote, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Beginning with this year’s sophomores, who are scheduled to graduate in 2021, Harvard College is punishing students who belong to single-sex organizations such as fraternities, sororities, or so-called final clubs by barring them from taking leadership positions on sports teams and extracurricular clubs and withholding recommendations for applications to Rhodes scholarships and certain other fellowships.

Braun’s letter is dated April 9, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Harvard’s president, Lawrence Bacow, responded late last week with a letter defending the policy.

“Harvard is not banning these social groups, nor is it prohibiting membership in them. The policy is about institutional prerogatives. Students may choose to join unrecognized, single-gender social organizations, but the University has chosen to adopt a policy regarding student eligibility for leadership positions in Harvard-recognized organizations or Harvard endorsements that is aligned with our core values of non-discrimination and inclusion,” Bacow wrote in the response, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Single-sex organizations are lobbying Congress about Harvard’s policy. The university is a defendant in a lawsuit filed by certain fraternities and sororities in December 2018. The plaintiffs claim Harvard is guilty of sex discrimination.

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