Letter from Dean O'Dair Regarding Social Organization Recognition Process

Dear Harvard College Students,

I write to update you on how the Office of Student Life (OSL) will implement Harvard's Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations (USGSO) policy. The policy states that "students matriculating in the fall of 2017 and thereafter who become members of USGSOs will not be eligible to hold leadership positions in recognized student organizations or on athletic teams. In addition, such students will not be eligible to receive the Danoff Dean of Harvard College's endorsement for College-administered fellowships." As a reminder, students who matriculated prior to fall 2017 are exempt from this policy.

The goal of the USGSO policy is to dedicate resources to those students and organizations that are advancing our commitment to non-discrimination. The policy offers those interested organizations supportive pathways to fulfill the non-discrimination obligations of recognized student organizations in the College. In crafting the Implementation Plan, the OSL was guided by
President Faust’s December 2017 letter, the Final Report of the Implementation Committee, the Faculty Committee on the USGSO policy, and the College’s longstanding commitment to non-discrimination.

The OSL has created a new
website that outlines the full implementation details of USGSO policy, which includes:
  • how membership in a USGSO will be defined;
  • the leadership positions affected by the policy;
  • the fellowships affected by the policy;
  • the role of national organizations on campus; and
  • new efforts to support and enhance the women’s community and experience at Harvard College.
I encourage all of you to visit the site and carefully read the plan.

The College will formally request that the USGSO policy be incorporated into the
Handbook for Students through the Faculty's regular process of reviewing and updating The Handbook language. Any violations of USGSO policy will be reviewed via the College's usual processes for addressing concerns about community standards. As currently described in the Handbook, issues relating to social misconduct are reviewed by the Administrative Board, while concerns related to academic integrity and the Honor Code are reviewed by the Honor Council.

Moving forward, I also wish to share that the OSL is in the process of developing a new framework for governing primarily social organizations, building off our current but distinct recognition of Independent Student Organizations (ISO). In developing this new framework, the OSL will actively partner with and seek feedback from social groups already committed to becoming gender-inclusive or ones that have expressed interest in doing so. We hope to present such a framework to the College community in the coming months, with the goal of making it operational in the fall of 2018.

We welcome students and student-leaders to partner with us as we work together to create inclusive social opportunities for students on our campus. Students and student-leaders of USGSOs are encouraged to be in touch with OSL through
Chris Gilbert. Students and student-leaders with further questions can also be in touch with us at socialorgpolicy@fas.harvard.edu.

Kind Regards,
Dean Katie O’Dair
Dean of Students