Lobbying Hypocrisy and Misdirected Influence

Not content with Harvard’s policy on unrecognized single-gender social groups, some alumni have begun to look for a way to protect their old clubs. Rather worryingly, they have begun to lobby Congress to alter the proposed PROSPER Act such that it would apply to the College. Under the proposed legislation, universities to which the law currently would apply are prohibited from taking punitive measures against students who opt to join single-gender groups.

While we stand by our support for the College's sanctions on final clubs and Greek organizations, we believe that regardless of one’s stance on the issue, these alumni have behaved inappropriately. Any policy, or lack of policy, on Harvard's single-gender social organizations should be decided by those who have a direct and immediate connection to Harvard—current students, faculty, and administrators. Some alumni on these club graduate boards have not attended Harvard in decades, and yet are still trying to enshrine a lifestyle they led when the College was a vastly different institution.

Alumni who are concerned with the state of Harvard today could do more tangible good for the student body by wielding their influence for something other than these bastions of exclusivity. They could donate to financial aid initiatives, start new summer internship programs, or invest in Harvard’s research.

Instead, their actions carry a degree of hypocrisy. Many of these alumni are currently lobbying Congress because they believe the Corporation has overstepped its boundaries in effectively codifying the College's penalties. However, to go to the U.S. government, in an attempt to supersede the Corporation, is an even more egregious form of the alleged overreach they decry.

We are disappointed in the decision by these alumni to use their money and influence in an attempt to lobby the federal government to overrule a policy specific to a single university. The debate over final clubs and Greek organizations is entirely a Harvard-specific issue to resolve, and should not be subject to the will of any other institution. We urge the College to ignore these efforts and continue to assert its rightful authority to decide what works on its own campus.

Ultimately, whether these lobbying efforts continue or fizzle out, we do acknowledge that the entire process of implementing the sanctions has been incredibly confusing. The student body needs clarity on the sanctions, especially as the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences will soon vote on whether to include the policy in the Student Handbook. This policy has already begun to affect students on this campus. Yet the lack of clarity on the sanctions does not excuse the actions of overzealous and overstepping alumni. This backdoor attempt by far-removed alumni to change the policy through the labyrinthine mechanisms of the federal government will only add to this needless confusion.

This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.


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