Two years ago Caitlin Flanagan published her eye-opening investigation into the dangers of the fraternity system as currently structured, so you might think she’s also a critic of Harvard’s so-called final clubs.
But as the Atlantic contributor writes in The Washington Post, the Harvard administration is the real villain – and its much-vaunted sexual-assault task force report, which demands the clubs become coed, is bogus.
Dean Rakesh Khurana’s threat to punish male students for simply being members of the single-sex clubs is “one more step toward the erosion of college students’ constitutional rights,” Flanagan writes:
By design, they are private societies, located off campus on privately held land. Unlike fraternity chapters of the Greek system — which usually have an affiliation with their host institutions — they have no official connection with Harvard, and they are under no compunction to change their membership policies to fulfill the university’s beau ideal of itself.
Though the task-force report “burns with moral indignation” against the final clubs, calling them hotbeds of sexual assault, “its evidence does not warrant” that conclusion:
Consider a single statistic: 47 percent of female seniors who reported participating in final club events also reported having nonconsensual sexual contact during their years in college. But that act, we discover — if we track down the appendices and fall down a rabbit hole of illogic — could have happened at the hands of a nonmember, in a location unrelated to a final club and before the victim even participated in a club event. In fact, the club whose event she attended could have been an all-women’s final club. It would be almost impossible to concoct a more meaningless statistic.
It’s also a far less commonly reported venue than the dorms, Flanagan notes:
These are spaces over which the university has complete jurisdiction, so its failure to reduce assaults constitutes a far graver institutional error than its inability to police the final clubs.
Flanagan scolds Harvard and the “Keystone Cop system of college professors and task forces” that handle sexual-assault reports, saying they should aim to persuade actual victims “to report assaults to the real-world system of law and order.”
IMAGE CREDIT: “War on Men by Suzanne Venker (WND Books © 2013)”