If you've been following national news, I'm sure you have heard about Harvard's rule against unrecognized single-gender social organizations (USGSOs). If you have, I'm sure you have also heard about the backlash that rule has received. In case you're unaware of what the rule is, here is an exact quote from the Harvard College's Social Organization Policy.
"In May 2016, Harvard College announced a new policy stating that beginning with the class of 2021, undergraduates at Harvard College, who are also members of USGSOs, will not be permitted to hold leadership positions in recognized student organizations or on athletic teams and that they will also not be eligible for letters of recommendation from the Danoff Dean of Harvard College for scholarship opportunities, including the Rhodes and the Marshall." — Harvard College Social Organization Policy
Harvard also argues in their policy that these USGSOs "have an outsized and negative impact on the social and personal experiences of Harvard College students" and implies sexual assault by referencing that these impacts have been noticed by multiple committees including the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault.
Although I am not a Harvard student, I am a part of one of these organizations at another university. As a member of a single-gender social organization, let me say that their rule is absurd. Being a part of my organization has never made me a disruption or endangerment to my college peers. If anything, my single-gender social organization has taught me how to interact with others, become more independent, develop individual strength and establish connections between people who reside across the nation. It has also encouraged me to help others in need, volunteer when I can, donate to amazing causes and present myself in a professional manner to students in my university and beyond.
I know I can't speak for whatever is happening amongst the campus of Harvard College, but I can attest that organizations that distill these kinds of values in their members are not to blame. People can make poor decisions, and yes, if they're in an organization, it could result in making that organization look bad. However, that goes for any organization, not just ones that are single-gendered.
Besides the fact that a person's actions reflect upon the reputation of an organization, people should be responsible and held accountable for their actions, not the organization that they are in. Going along with that, organizations such as these aren't going to want people who will represent them in those sorts of ways and will often revoke membership from an individual who does not present themselves with the values distilled in them by that organization.
A right that Harvard College is depriving their students of with this rule within the Social Organization Policy is the right to choose. Any student should be not only free to but encouraged to join an unrecognized single-gendered social organization if that student chooses to do so. These organizations include sororities, fraternities, and final clubs. It's also not fair for students to be stripped of scholarship, leadership and fellowship opportunities specifically because they decide to join one of these organizations. A student should be judged based on their academic performance, campus involvement, and professional contribution, not on what type of college organization they join. If anything, involvement in these organizations provide students with the social experience that should add to a resume and help prepare a student for leadership positions, as they are given opportunities to run for positions on the executive board within their organization.
In result to the Harvard College Social Organization Policy, students have taken the chance to fight back against the foolish rule. Sororities and fraternities have teamed up to sue Harvard College. The cases against the college argue that "the school's policy discriminates against students based on their sex and spreads negative stereotypes about students who join all-male or all-female organizations" and violates opportunities protected by the First Amendment and Title IX. I completely agree with them and that statement. The school is being sexist by relying on gender stereotypes, especially by making the assumption that an all-male organization is what causes sexual assault.
Those suing Harvard College have developed a website that features a petition and other various ways to get involved. To sign the petition, learn more about the issue, or follow to the case, be sure to visit standuptoharvard.org.