Harvard University decided two years ago to lead the charge against "deeply misogynistic attitudes" and for gender neutrality by mandating that all single-gender students groups begin accepting members of the opposite sex — and that includes sororities.
In response, last week, the Kappa Alpha Theta chapter announced that it will open its doors, disaffiliate from the national organization, and rebrand itself as Theta Zeta Xi. But another sorority, Delta Gamma, announced that it was choosing a different route: disbanding the chapter altogether.
The Washington Post reports:
Last week, a Harvard sorority became the first student organization to choose a third option: shutting down. The national Delta Gamma organization announced that its Zeta Phi-Cambridge Area chapter would close. The choice to disband was made in a May vote by members of the local chapter, which triggered a 60-day comment period, according to a statement from the national association.
Though Harvard's Delta Gamma chapter is officially shuttering its doors, The Crimson reports that some former members are opening a new, co-ed social organization they're calling "Kali Praxi," which means "good deed."
Unlike, the co-ed reboot of the now-defunct chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta, KP is something totally "distinct" from the shuttered Delta Gamma chapter. Some of the old Delta Gamma members are joining KP, but others have moved on.
"While the two groups may be similar in mission and some of the KP’s initial membership, the KP will seek to have a diverse membership of people from all backgrounds, regardless of gender or previous affiliation with Delta Gamma," KP affiliate Basia Rosenbaum ’18 wrote, The Crimson reports. "[DG] looks forward to expanding its membership in the fall."
The demise of Harvard's Delta Gamma chapter, after serving women for over two decades, puts the spotlight on the Ivy League's often bitter debate over "gender discrimination, sexual harassment and freedom of association" and highlights some of the unintended consequences of Harvard's "broad brush" approach.
The university's new anti-gender discrimination rules that were "designed to stop forms of mostly male predation" and break up men's groups that were accused of encouraging "deeply misogynistic attitudes" have ended up laying waste to female organizations. Meanwhile, some of the all-male finals clubs, which were the original targets, have welcomed the idea of admitting women into their ranks.
The Post summarizes some of the blowback the university has faced over the "broad-brush" approach to the gender issue:
The broad-brush approach rankled some members and alumni of all-female clubs. Writing in the Harvard Crimson, three members of the Sablière Society’s graduate board accused Harvard of pursuing “damage control” with all-male groups and, in the process, sacrificing “support systems, safe spaces, and alumnae networks” cultivated by female clubs. ...
Some of the all-male final clubs have resisted the movement toward gender-neutral admission, joining hands with several fraternities to engage a law firm pursuing lobbying efforts on their behalf, the Harvard Crimson reported. They’ve set their sights on the PROSPER Act, a bill introduced in the House at the end of last year that, with modifications, could potentially endanger federal research funding if Harvard goes through with the penalties.