In 2015, one of Harvard’s elite social clubs admitted nine female members. This week, they were ejected, making the Fox Club all-male once more.
The Harvard Crimson reports that the Fox Club’s graduate panel has revoked “provisional membership,” a conditional admittance under which those nine female members were accepted. At the time, several male students accepted provisional membership in solidarity, and only they have been invited to re-apply, according to screenshots of correspondence obtained by the Crimson. In the messages, Fox Club undergraduate president Daniel T. Skarzynski writes that graduate board president Hugh M. Nesbit has ended provisional membership across the board:
“For the concerned parties, [Nesbit] also said that if you’d like to be re-considered for membership, you should send an email to that effect… and that the grad board will vote individually,” Skarzynski wrote. “However, he said this invite for reapplication does not apply to female members until such a time as the club votes successfully to add women to its membership.”
According to the Boston Globe, the Fox Club has failed to obtain the two-thirds majority necessary on a vote to include women numerous times, but some members are additionally upset because the opportunity for the graduate board to vote again, just a few months ago at their spring dinner, was not taken.
The Fox Club’s decision comes just before the arrival of the Class of 2021, the first group of students to be affected by Harvard’s controversial new policy to penalize Finals Clubs and Greek organizations that don’t convert to being gender neutral. The policy was established by University President Drew G. Faust in response to a report on sexual assault and rape culture on campus, according to the Crimson:
“Although the fraternities, sororities, and final clubs are not formally recognized by the College, they play an unmistakable and growing role in student life, in many cases enacting forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values,” Faust wrote. “The College cannot ignore these organizations if it is to advance our shared commitment to broadening opportunity and making Harvard a campus for all of its students.”
The decision was met with pushback from members of women-only organizations as well, as it will prevent them from receiving dean recommendations or being able to apply for the Rhodes or Marshall scholarships. The Boston Globe reports that a committee was formed to review and perhaps reconfigure the policy, and they’re expected to release their decision this month.
There are also conspiracy theories that the university’s plan to influence social clubs is actually a real estate grab for high-priced mansions owned by the clubs around campus. The all-male Fly Club hired attorneys in September of 2016 in anticipation of battling it out with administrators. One Fly Club member wrote to the Boston Globe in an email, “The path forward seems clear: Acquiesce to the administration’s baseless and open-ended demands and eventually forfeit club property, or defend your rights as legally independent Massachusetts corporations.”