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December 05, 2017

Harvard is abandoning a plan to phase out single-gender student clubs. At the same time, the Ivy League school is upholding its policy that penalizes students who join such clubs. 

The announcement comes months after some faculty recommended Harvard phase out fraternities, sororities and similar organizations by 2022. 

In announcing the decision, Harvard president Drew Faust said the school should “give students both choice and agency," and ask them to take account of their own values.

But Faust, who in the past has accused single-gender social clubs of promoting a culture of alcohol abuse and sexual assault, also affirmed the college's current policy barring members of single-gender student clubs from leadership positions on campus and certain prestigious scholarships.

"This is a sad day for Harvard," said Harvey Silverglate, a Harvard graduate and civil rights lawyer advising an all-male club, which is considering suing the college.

"This is supposed to be a liberal arts college and it is taking away from its students the right to decide how they are going to spend their free time," Silverglate said.

Silverglate thinks Harvard is treating its students like children rather than young adults.

Harvard's decision comes as schools across the country, including Ohio State and Michigan, have suspended Greek life following allegations of hazing and sexual misconduct.

In the statement, Faust said Harvard "should not become a Greek school, much less one where these organizations exist outside the college's supervision."

Earlier: At Harvard, A Campaign To Prohibit Single-Gender Groups and Remove Barriers

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