#HearHerHarvard: Harvard sanctions ignore benefits of Greek life

By Brooke Hill | Copy Editor

In May 2016, Harvard began the discussion of refusing to recognize all single-gender groups on campus. This would have the largest impact on sororities and fraternities, and it is presumably aiming to eliminate the possibility of facing problems with sexual assault and hazing, which are sometimes associated with Greek life. The university renewed adoption of this policy in December 2017.

Needless to say, this did not go over well.

Any single-gender groups that chose to remain on campus despite university’s new policy have started to see the effects of the new sanctions. The sanctions – which took effect with the class of 2021 – bar members of single-gender clubs and Greek organizations from holding student group leadership positions, being varsity athletic team captains and receiving college endorsement for prestigious fellowships.

Sororities and fraternities are a place where women and men come together and support each other. The negative connotations that come along with these organizations often overshadow the true heart behind why these organizations exist – to uplift and encourage organization members. Many students are able to find their lifelong friends through these organizations, and that shouldn’t be punished.

My sorority, the Baylor chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta, is a place where I feel accepted and loved around every single one of my 300+ sisters. It gives me a place to lead my peers and better myself. These Harvard students aren’t just fighting for the right to keep wearing their letters; they’re fighting for their right to keep their support system.

“By removing … spaces for women, Harvard is making our campus less safe for women,” Harvard student Rebecca Ramos told The Harvard Crimson.

Greek involvement is meant to propel women and men into leadership positions that will help them become the best versions of themselves. Instead, Harvard is using Greek life as a way to hinder involvement in other areas of campus by enforcing these punishments. The men of Harvard’s chapter of Sigma Chi are also taking a stand and have not conformed to the policies and called for an open dialogue with Harvard President Drew Faust to discuss how Greek-letter organizations can contribute to a safer, more inclusive college experience. Women and men involved with Greek life should take advantage of this opportunity to work together to stand up for what they believe is right.

Three out of four sororities on Harvard’s campus are ignoring the ban and currently going through spring recruitment despite sanctions. Harvard’s chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma suspended chapter operations, and the women formed a new, gender-neutral group called the Fleur-de-Lis, which is still allowed to be “female focused.”

Shame on Kappa Kappa Gamma for giving up. Women don’t make history by backing down. They should have stood with their fellow Panhellenic sisters and fought for their right to retain their support system.

Harvard’s chapters of Kappa Alpha Theta, Alpha Phi and Delta Gamma sororities are presenting a unified front and fighting the sanctions. On Jan. 23, women from sororities all over the nation took to social media using the hashtags #HearHerHarvard and #WithoutMySorority to voice their support for their fellow sisters. By fighting back and not backing down, these women are showing tremendous leadership, and I couldn’t be more proud to call some of those women my sorority sisters.

According to The Harvard Crimson, Ramos argued that the policy has “taken away our place to speak openly about women’s issues and actively empower each other and other women, and in doing so, they effectively turn back the clock on all of our progress.”

I hear you, women of Harvard. Don’t give up the fight.

Brooke Hill is a sophomore journalism and English double major from Garland. This column reflects the views of Brooke Hill and does not in any way reflect the views of Kappa Alpha Theta.