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Harvard adheres to the current policy on the final clubs

Harvard University announced on Tuesday that it will not outright ban its exclusive male end clubs, but will continue to sanction its members while maintaining the university's current policy.

The destiny of the social clubs, that count presidents and powerful of EE. UU among its students, it has provoked a fierce debate among students, faculty and Harvard graduates over the past two years.

University administrators have attempted to phase out groups off campus, blaming them for social divisions and alcohol parties that have led to sexual assaults. This summer, a committee of the faculty recommended the most severe punishment so far: that students who join the final clubs, as well as single-gender fraternities and fraternities, be suspended or expelled.

That plan, which would have effectively put an end to the clubs, provoked a storm of criticism. Alumni threatened to withhold donations, defenders of freedom of expression argued that Harvard had exceeded its legal authority, and students opposed the restrictions of their social lives. [19659000] Get Fast Forward in your inbox:

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On Tuesday, university officials said they had decided to maintain the current policy, which restricts students who join unrecognized single-gender groups from major campus organizations and sports teams and excludes them from receiving recommendations. of the dean for Rhodes or Marshall scholarships.

"Finally, students have the freedom to decide what is most important to them: to be members of a discriminatory gender organization or to access those privileges and resources," said the president of Harvard. Drew Faust said in a statement published with William Lee, a lawyer from Boston and the head of the board of directors of the university.

The policy was instituted in 2016 and started with the incoming class this year.

The decision to maintain the status quo was met with anger and threats of lawsuits from the club representatives.

"Harvard could not be more wrong," said Heather Kirk, a spokeswoman for the North American Interfraternity Conference, which represents 66 fraternities and is considering legal action against the policy. "It is ironic that one of the most exclusive institutions in the world is limiting which organizations students can join."

Rick Porteus, Fly Club graduate president, said he's been around for more than 180 years and not going anywhere He said Harvard should not dictate how students spend their free time and criticized the university for not promoting a better social life on campus.

The clubs are socioeconomically and racially diverse, he said, something that Harvard ignored. "This is really a child-centered approach to mature young adults in full adulthood," he said.

Fly Club members will meet to discuss whether to sue, the representatives said.

Harvard has eight unrecognized male end clubs, with secret traditions and mysterious names such as Delphic, Fox and Porcellian. Many were founded in the 19th century, and their alumni include T.S. Eliot, Henry Cabot Lodge, Bill Gates and John F. Kennedy.

Clubs have substantial endowments and stately homes near Harvard Square where students line up to attend their parties.

Harvard also has six final women's clubs, as well as five fraternities and four fraternities, all not recognized by the university.

Heather Furnas, a California plastic surgeon whose daughter graduated from Harvard this year, said that sororities and women's groups are being unfairly dragged by this policy. She warned the university that it will not make future donations because of this problem.

"How does female club membership guarantee being excluded from leadership positions, being a captain of a college athletic team, or receiving university support for a prestigious graduate scholarship?" Asked Furnas.

"The Harvard sanction of the final single-gender clubs and the Greek organizations in the name of diversity is effectively social engineering, I just do not feel comfortable with social engineering."

In general, the decision on the final clubs would have been taken by Faust. But because he will step down as president in June, the Harvard board of directors voted on politics. Faust is a member of the board of directors.

Since Harvard began debating this policy, one of the clubs and a fraternity have become gender-neutral, and a men's club and a women's club decided to share resources.

University Authorities said those are signs that campus culture is changing.

Harvard said it will review the policy in five years to determine if it is effective.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe . Laura Krantz can be contacted at laura.krantz@globe.com.

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