Recognition Process for Social Organizations

May 10, 2018
Dear Harvard College Students,

I am writing today to announce the College’s new social organization recognition process. As you know, Harvard College seeks to build a community where every student can thrive, and it does so on the foundation of a set of shared values including belonging, inclusion, and non-discrimination. Today’s announcement represents an important step in helping to ensure that we are building such a community.

The process draws upon the recommendations of the College’s February 2017 Report of the Implementation Committee for the policy on membership in Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations (USGSO). As we announced in March, the College partnered with students to adopt the process for social organizations that are seeking recognition from the College.

The process describes in detail the category of Recognized Social Organizations (RSOs). This category is designed to support organizations that consist primarily of Harvard College undergraduates whose purpose is primarily social and which do not discriminate on the basis of gender.  It is important to note that RSOs will remain independent from Harvard University, but that provided they meet certain criteria, the College will verify that an RSO is not an Unrecognized Single Gender Social Organization (USGSO). RSOs will also be eligible for certain privileges to help support their functionality, contingent of course on their compliance with all RSO policies.

The full policy outlines in detail the process, along with deadlines and instructions for organizations to apply for recognition. It also outlines the various degrees of recognition, which include:
  1. Interim Recognition: the minimum standard of recognition for RSOs, this is intended to provide support to groups during the early stages of becoming gender-inclusive, and is open to all RSOs for one academic year.
  2. Full Recognition: groups which meet the full recognition standards as well as the policies outlined in the Recognized Student Organization Resource and Policy Guide will be formally recognized by the College.
  3. Recognition with Distinction: Groups which meet these standards, as well as those outlined in the Recognized Student Organization Resource and Policy Guide, in addition to being formally recognized by the College will be eligible for awards of distinction from the Dean of Students Office (DSO), and for additional grants to support their inclusive programming efforts.
Lastly, the DSO will partner with RSO student-leaders to facilitate a Social Organization Leadership Council to support and inform the development of RSOs as part of the Harvard College community.

This morning we have added the 
full social organization recognition process to our website. I hope you will take a moment to read through the details.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to send them to and we will be sure to get back to you.

Kind Regards,

Dean Katie O’Dair
Dean of Students