The Porcellian Club has been around since the Bill of Rights was ratified, but it hasn’t publicly defended its right to freedom of association until this week.
Harvard University’s oldest male-only club is savaging the administration for threatening to expel anyone who remains a member of the school’s so-called final clubs unless they accept women – one of the sweeping recommendations of a sexual-assault task force.
“I sincerely hope that the administration will not set the precedent of creating a ‘blacklist’ of organizations that students cannot join,” [Charles] Storey wrote. “Such McCarthyism is a dangerous road that would be a blow to academic freedom, the spirit of tolerance, and the long tradition of free association on campus.”
It’s folly to expect that a coed mandate on male-only clubs – particularly those like the Porcellian, which has a no-guest policy – will reduce sexual assault, Storey said:
“Given our policies, we are mystified as to why the current administration feels that forcing our club to accept female members would reduce the incidence of sexual assault on campus,” Storey wrote. “Forcing single gender organizations to accept members of the opposite sex could potentially increase, not decrease the potential for sexual misconduct.”
He defended the club’s right to determine its own character while noting its membership “reflects the diversity of the [undergraduate] male population”:
“As a club that is completely independent of Harvard, which accepts no funding from Harvard, which owns its own property, and believes fervently in the right to self-determination, that decision is ours, not Harvard’s, to make,” he wrote.
Harvard has refused to answer the Porcellian’s “most basic questions,” Storey said, particularly whether its threats would be “equally applied” to fraternities, sororities, and both male and female final clubs, or differentiate between organizations that host parties and those that don’t.