"Safe spaces"

Women protest new Harvard rules that sanction single-sex clubs

A protest at Harvard on May 9, 2016. (Twitter/ Flavia Cuervo)

Women students at Harvard University have mounted a protest against the institution’s plans to combat gender discrimination in student social organizations, declaring the changes a threat to “safe spaces.”

The protest was a response to the announcement on Friday by university president Drew Gilpin Faust, about how societies known as “final clubs,” as well as fraternities, sororities and other groups that accept only men or women would be treated. Starting in 2017, members of single-sex clubs will be prohibited from holding leadership positions on campus — affecting an estimated 30 percent of all Harvard undergraduates. The new rules would prevent such students from being athletic team captains or receiving official recommendations for prestigious postgraduate fellowships and scholarships, such as the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships.

The Monday protest was organized under the hashtag #HearHerHarvard, with the aim to uphold women’s spaces on campus. “My first semester at Harvard, I lost my voice and sense of self at such a competitive school,” Whitney Anderson, a member of Harvard’s class of 2016, said at the protest, according to a transcript provided to the Washington Post by protesters. “Joining a women’s organization helped me find my place at Harvard. I finally had a home at school. My women’s organization has been more than a social organization. It has been a mental health respite, a place to discuss sexual assaults, Harvard’s failure in expelling rapists, where I became a feminist, and where I re-found my voice. My women’s organization taught me how to be a leader. It taught me when I could take the initiative and when to ask for help. And my women’s organization has given me the voice to protest when Harvard shows their continued disdain and ignorance of women’s voices on campus.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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