Khurana satisfied with the progress of the transition of a recognized social organization | News

College Dean Rakesh Khurana said in an interview on Friday that he was “satisfied” with the recent progress some students have made in transitioning their social organizations toward compliance with College social group policies.

Groups complimented by Khurana, known as Recognized Social Organizations, are social groups on campus that have adopted a gender-neutral membership policy to avoid College sanctions. Sanctions prohibit members of single-sex final clubs and Greek organizations beginning in the Class of 2021 from holding student group leadership positions, leading varsity sports teams and receiving College approval for certain scholarships prestigious.

“I’ve brought in students who are involved in creating these new RSOs or transitioning their organizations, just tell me how wonderful the experience has been to be able to do something new, to create a culture where people meet on an equal footing, to develop friendships that they otherwise wouldn’t have developed in that kind of environment,” Khurana said.

Khurana’s comments come several weeks after nearly 400 undergraduate students signed up for the RSO’s joint recruitment process, according to Ivy President Margaret E. Reynolds ’20. Participating students sought to join one of four former sororities that have since become gender-neutral: the Fleur-de-Lis, the Ivy, the Kali Praxi or the Themis Asteri Club.

This year’s RSO pool of aspirants grew to about four times the size of 2018’s pool. Harvard sororities saw record interest last year as several potential members debated whether they should comply with sanctions. .

Khurana said the RSO recruitment process reflected Harvard’s policies well and served as a model for other colleges and universities.

“I think Harvard is doing what Harvard does best and doing what is right for them. But I think our students are not just leading for Harvard, but I think they’re leading for higher education,” he said. “I think it’s something they’ll be very proud of when they look back.”

Khurana and the College first unveiled the policy in May 2016, breaking a nearly three-decade period of administrative distance from Harvard’s unrecognized social groups. Since then, the policy has gone through several revisions before coming into effect from the Class of 2021.

Several Greek groups chose to close in the face of sanctions, leaving Harvard without all-women social groups for three months. The Harvard Chapter of Alpha Phi returned to campus in November and remains the only women-only social organization at the College.

As former sororities and other gender-neutral organizations adjust to new College policies, some Endgame Clubs and Greek groups have decided to fight back against sanctions.

In December, a group of sororities, fraternities and college students filed a pair of lawsuits in state and federal courts against Harvard, alleging that its social group policies are discriminatory and unconstitutional. International organizations for Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta and Alpha Phi sororities, and a management company for Delta Gamma sorority chapters are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuits.

The University recently decided to dismiss both lawsuits, although experts say both cases will likely move forward.

—Editor Shera S. Avi-Yonah can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @saviyonah.

—Writer Delano R. Franklin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @delanofranklin_.

Joel C. Hicks