Male privilege

Harvard University’s Fox Club to expel all of its ‘provisional’ female members

A student sits under a tree in Harvard Yard at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Harvard University’s Fox Club, one of eight originally male-only final clubs at the university, has decided to expel nine women who enjoyed “provisional” status in the club and officially return the club to all-male membership, according to the school’s newspaper, The Harvard Crimson.

In October 2015, the Fox Club admitted a small group of women students on a provisional basis after Harvard administrators pushed them and other all-male final clubs to become gender-neutral. While some male members of the Fox Club decided to adopt “provisional” status themselves in support of their female peers, the club had chosen not to invite any more women to join the club even as the group continued to induct new male members. Now, according to screenshots of correspondence between recent Fox graduates that were obtained by The Crimson, the graduate board has decided to officially revoke the membership of all “provisional” members and to invite only male “provisional” members to re-apply for full membership.

In May 2016, Harvard announced that members of single-gender social organizations would be barred from leadership positions in school-sanctioned student groups and from receiving college endorsement for prestigious fellowships such as the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. Despite the impending consequences of retaining its all-male status, in August 2016 the Fox Club failed to pass a change to the group’s by-laws that would have allowed female membership. In May 2017, undergraduate members of the club would also vote against adding women.

According to one male Fox graduate who preferred to remain anonymous, some male “provisional” members have chosen not to reapply for membership until women are allowed to re-apply as well. Douglas W. Sears ’69, the president of the Fox Club’s graduate board when women first joined the club, has publicly denounced the decision to keep the club all-male.

“Some folks certainly know how to get on the wrong side of history voluntarily,” said Sears.

Whether the Fox Club actually becomes subject to sanctions by the school will remain to be seen. This Fall, a faculty committee is expected to deliver final recommendations on whether to keep or revise penalties for single-gender social clubs.

Read the full story at The Harvard Crimson.


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