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Harvard 'Final Clubs' Gender Policy Ignites Backlash From Women

Image: Harvard 'Final Clubs' Gender Policy Ignites Backlash From Women
(Twitter/‏@ramseyfahs)

By    |   Wednesday, 11 May 2016 09:41 AM

Women at Harvard University are protesting new rules aimed at curbing exclusive "final clubs" and other single-gender social organizations.

"On campus and in a society that is so male-dominated, female spaces are crucial sources of empowerment," Sophomore Caroline Tervo said, according to WBUR, Boston's NPR affiliate.

Organized with the hashtag #HearHerHarvard, the protests came in response to new rules accepted by Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust on Friday. Those rules state that members of unrecognized single-gender social clubs won't be eligible for leadership positions on Harvard sports teams and university organizations or for dean's endorsements for Rhodes scholarships and other fellowships.

While the rules set out to reduce gender discrimination on and off campus, some women complain that it hurts women who find refuge in all-women organizations.

The new rules follow a 20-page report from the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault, which singled out male-only final clubs, saying, "Cultures that reflect male control and exclusivity encourage the marginalization of women and assumptions about sexual entitlement."

"In recent months, we have been forcefully reminded that diversity is not equivalent to inclusion and belonging, and we have rededicated ourselves to achieving a campus where all members fully belong and thrive," Faust wrote in a letter accepting the changes. "For us to make progress on this shared endeavor, we must address deeply rooted gender attitudes, and the related issues of sexual misconduct, points underscored by the work of the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault."

Protesters stressed the importance of women's social organizations and their role in teaching leadership.

"My women's organization has been more than a social organization," protester Whitney Anderson said, according to The Washington Post. "It has been a mental health respite, a place to discuss sexual assaults, Harvard's failure in expelling rapists, where I became a feminist, and where I re-found my voice."

After acknowledging the protest, Harvard stood by its policy change.

"As we noted Friday, change is difficult and is often met initially by opposition," Harvard spokeswoman Rachael Dane said in a statement. "That was certainly true with past steps to remove gender barriers at Harvard, yet few today would reverse those then-controversial decisions. We continue to believe that gender discrimination has no place on Harvard's campus. At the same time, we support the right of every community member to express their views."

Twitter users shared mixed reactions to the controversy.








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Women at Harvard University are protesting new rules aimed at curbing exclusive "final clubs" and other single-gender social organizations.
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2016-41-11
Wednesday, 11 May 2016 09:41 AM
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