We need more students pushing back against administrative inanity
Every so often something happens on campus that surprises you. At Harvard a short while ago, a large number of young women stood up to the university’s administrative stupidity, putting their own collegiate reputations at no small amount of risk and proving that, yes, sometimes even college students are willing to push back against higher education orthodoxy.
Harvard last year finalized rules that level sanctions against independent single-sex social clubs. Any student who joins one of these clubs will not be eligible for leadership in campus student organizations; nor will they be allowed to claim athletic captaincies, and they will not be eligible for recommendations for postgraduate fellowships. The reason for these sanctions, as you might have guessed, is because—according to the Harvard Corporation—single-sex clubs are “discriminatory” or “non-inclusive” or some other such silly and unserious charge.
Most college students—those at the Ivy Leagues, anyway—are markedly sensitive about their academic records, and so it is unsurprising that, say, one Harvard sorority capitulated and went co-ed after the rules were finalized. Yet three other sororities declined to be bullied: they have remained single-sex, and they have also refused to disassociate from their national organizations, which, had they done so, would have exempted them from sanctions for five years. “We believe in a woman’s right to create a supportive, aspirational community,” the sororities said in a joint statement. Translation: thanks, Harvard, but no thanks.
This comes as a welcome surprise. In an age where the prevailing political orthodoxy on campus vacillates between progressive mania and gender-neutral feminist rage, it is hopeful to see young women standing up for values that, in comparison, seem downright traditional. The benefits of single-sex environments on campus are numerous, and obvious, and long-known; it is perfectly reasonable for young women to wish to have an exclusive environment in which they may fraternize (so to speak) with other women, free from the tricky and awkward pressures that coeducational environments can sometimes create. There’s nothing “discriminatory” about it, at least in any negative way. Sometimes men and women just want to be around men and women, respectively. If that makes Harvard uncomfortable, tough.
One hopes this might serve as a modest beacon to other campus dissidents: you can, in fact, assert yourself in the face of campus political orthodoxy; you can take a stand for something, even if it’s a relatively small thing. Here’s to hoping that Harvard’s sororities are successful in their bid to remain independent and self-determining—and here’s to hoping others begin to see the benefit in that.
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