An elite Harvard University social club has reportedly rescinded the memberships of nine women, thus reverting back to the club’s traditional male-only membership status.
The Fox Club began accepting women into its fold for the first time about two years ago, according to the Harvard Crimson, but now, the club’s alumni leaders have decided to prohibit those admitted women from continuing as club members.
The club’s membership is lifelong and the point of contention here is between the undergraduate members and those who have graduated from the school. The nine women have since graduated Harvard.
When the club’s undergraduates admitted the nine women as members in 2015, the graduate leadership allowed them to remain in the club as “provisional” members, according to the Crimson, and did not admit any more women in the following years.
The graduate board is now revoking membership for all “provisional” members.
Some male members adopted the “provisional” moniker as well — in support of their peers, the Crimson reports.
But with the recent decision, those men were invited to reapply for a full Fox Club membership.
In a message to members, the club’s former undergraduate president wrote that “this invite for reapplication does not apply to female members until such a time as the club votes successfully to add women to its membership,” according to the Crimson.
Single-gender social clubs have long been a point of contention at the Ivy League university. As of fall of 2017, Harvard students who join “unrecognized single-gender organizations” are barred from leadership positions in recognized school groups and sports teams.
The move was announced in May 2016, when then-Harvard President Drew Faust wrote a letter to students concerning social clubs (including the final clubs, fraternities and sororities). In that letter, Faust referred to a report that indicated that single-gender clubs contributed to on-campus sexual assaults and perpetuated “deeply rooted gender attitudes.”
“A truly inclusive community requires that students have the opportunity to participate in the life of the campus free from exclusion on arbitrary grounds,” she wrote.
But the social clubs are not formally sanctioned by Harvard. The decision sparked debate over whether a college has the power to monitor students’ off-campus activities. A Harvard committee is currently reviewing the proposed regulations on single gender social clubs and will release its findings in the fall.