The Harvard Crimson's Crumbling PC Agenda
Harvard University is discovering that some of its students take freedom of association seriously.
Last Monday, a number of national fraternities and sororities filed two separate lawsuits, in state and federal court respectively, challenging Harvard’s ham-fisted attempts to impose sanctions, beginning with the Class of 2021, on students who join off-campus, single-gender social clubs.
The national organizations for Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Sigma Chi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, along with Harvard’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, filed the federal lawsuit. They were joined by three unnamed Harvard students who are members of all-male social clubs — students who asked the U.S. District Court in Boston to let them proceed under pseudonyms so they could avoid “harassment and threats” from the public and “retribution” from the college.
The federal suit alleges that barring members of single-gender final clubs (secretive all-male groups), sororities, and fraternities from holding leadership positions in recognized student organizations, becoming varsity team captains, or receiving the college’s endorsement for prestigious fellowships, violates Title IX’s ban on sex-based discrimination and the United States Constitution.
The sanctions were aimed primarily at those final clubs, accused by Harvard in a 2016 report of having “deeply misogynistic attitudes.” Yet as the suit ironically notes, “Harvard succeeded, perversely, in eliminating nearly every women’s social organization previously available to female students at Harvard.”
The state lawsuit was filed by Delta Gamma’s national organization, Alpha Phi’s International Fraternity, and its Harvard chapter. It also addresses that allegation, noting the sanctions have essentially privileged men. Their organizations “remain open” because they are better equipped to resist the mandate, the suit explains. By contrast, members of women’s organizations “now have limited access” to the same experiences.
That suit also challenges Harvard’s virtually certain assertion that a private college can do whatever it wants. “Harvard has a special role within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Founded by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636, Harvard has its rights and status enshrined in chapter 5 of the Massachusetts Constitution,” the suit states. “However, by its recent actions, Harvard has breached the very Constitution under which it purports to operate.”
In addition to an injunction imposed against the sanctions going forward, the state lawsuit seeks financial compensation to offset the costs the sanctions imposed on the affected organizations.
“Harvard has really shown a disregard for the rights of its students to associate with people they want to associate with,” stated attorney David A. Russcol. “What they do off campus shouldn’t be any of Harvard’s business. It’s disappointing that the plaintiffs have had to take this action.”
The sanctions were initially rolled out in May 2016, and Dean Rakesh Khurana revealed the mindset behind them in an interview. “At Harvard, we have a very specific mission of educating citizens and citizen leaders for our diverse and interconnected society,” he declared. “We do not believe that it is effective to basically institutionalize segregation.”
Unless it’s political segregation. A survey of more than 1,000 members of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences revealed that more than 83% of those faculty members self-identified as very liberal or liberal, compared to just 1.6% who identified as conservative or very conservative.
The right of association, protected by both the First and Fourteenth Amendments, has long been upheld by the courts, beginning as a response to lawsuits filed in the 1950s and 1960s against states attempting to curb the political activities of the NAACP. It would be certainly useful to know if, hypothetically speaking, Khurana believes those sanctions should be imposed on members of a black student association if it refused to open its ranks to members of a white supremacist group.
For the sake of diversity and interconnectedness.
Regardless, like all social justice warriors, Khurana apparently believes the ends justify the means. According to the Boston Globe, he held a May 2015 meeting supposedly called to “ensure the groups were aware of the latest school policies on alcohol and sexual assault,” the paper reported. Instead, Khurana waved a sheet of paper in the air he claimed contained accounts of sexual assault. “Khurana said that the papers in his hand were very embarrassing to the clubs and that he could not guarantee that they would not be leaked,” the federal lawsuit states. “But, Khurana said, if some clubs became co-ed — systematically and soon — that would help the situation. It was an unmistakable threat.”
It was an effective one, and no one bore the brunt of that effectiveness more than Harvard’s women’s associations. In 2014, there were nine sororities and all-female final clubs on campus. Now only one still exists, according to the lawsuits.
Khurana’s efforts to impose the sanctions were driven by a complaint received by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights regarding how Harvard handled allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Thus in 2014, Harvard President Drew Faust ordered the creation of a task force composed of students, faculty, and administrators to address the issue.
Caitlin Flanagan wrote a lengthy Atlantic Magazine piece in March 2014 revealing that “the contemporary fraternity world is beset by a series of deep problems, which its leadership is scrambling to address, often with mixed results.” Nonetheless, in another article published a month later, she insisted the report produced by the task force “burns with moral indignation that its evidence does not warrant.”
Flanagan finds the assertion made by 47% of female senior club participants, who reported having nonconsensual sexual contact during their years in college, especially dubious. Those encounters, she explains, “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.”
Not quite. The bogus statistic that either one-in-four, or one-in-five women have been raped or targeted for attempted rape, first asserted in a 1987 Ms. Magazine article, goes to the top of the list.
Columnist Heather Mac Donald put that stat in perspective in 2014, noting it was 400 times higher than Detroit’s 2012 combined rate for murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Nonetheless, she wrote, “female applicants are beating down the doors of selective colleges in record numbers.”
How bogus are Harvard’s sanctions? “A Harvard undergraduate could join the American Nazi party, or could create an off-campus undergraduate chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, without running afoul of the sanctions policy, or any other Harvard student-conduct policy,” the federal suit asserts.
The real agenda? Harvard wants the power to determine which aspects of freedom of association are “more equal” than others. That the same school eagerly embraced the “minority” bona fides of a certain Harvard professor claiming to be 1/64th to 1/1024th Native American, and claimed that different SAT score standards for prospective students based on factors such as race and sex isn’t discriminatory?
Is there an off-campus organization for arrogant hypocrites associated with the most overrated college on the planet?