Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organization (USGSO) Policy

Guiding Philosophy


Harvard College seeks to build a community in which every student can thrive, and it does so on the foundation of a set of shared values including belonging, inclusion, and non-discrimination. The policy on Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations (USGSO) is designed to dedicate resources to those organizations that are advancing principles of inclusivity, while offering them supportive pathways as they transform into organizations that align with the educational philosophy, mission, and values of the College.

Policy


Students matriculating in the fall of 2017 and thereafter who become members of Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations (USGSO) will not be eligible to hold leadership positions in recognized student organizations or on athletic teams. In addition, such students will not be eligible for fellowships administered by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. This policy does not apply to students who matriculated prior to fall 2017.
 

Membership


Students are considered members of a USGSO if they have belonged to a USGSO within one calendar year of their becoming a leader or captain or the submission of a fellowship application.
 

Leadership Positions
 

  • The policy shall apply to leadership positions in all Independent Student Organizations (ISO), College-affiliated Sponsored Student Organizations (SSO), student-comprised groups affiliated with College offices (such as Pre-orientation programs), and PBHA programs. Leadership positions include officers and board members of the organization, ordinarily spelled out in a group’s constitution. In a letter to students in March 2017, Dean Khurana shared that this policy does not apply to the Harvard Crimson or the Undergraduate Council.
  • The policy shall apply to varsity sports. Varsity team captains are chosen democratically by their peers without the participation of coaches, though Athletics staff may be present to ensure students understand the election process. In line with this process, the OSL will partner with Athletics to ensure that, at the time of elections, student-athletes are aware of the current policy as it pertains to team captains.
     

Fellowships


Following the spirit of the recommendations proposed by the Implementation Committee Final Report and accepted by the Danoff Dean of Harvard College, the fellowships included in this policy will include all fellowships administered by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. A full list of the fellowships to which this policy currently applies can be found on the website of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.
 

National Organizations


The student experience at Harvard is a unique one, guided by our distinctive residential liberal-arts educational mission. The announcement of the USGSO policy by President Faust and the Harvard Corporation reinforces the long-standing expectation of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences that the Harvard undergraduate experience should be shaped by the relationship between Harvard students, faculty, and staff. To this end, Harvard College has long-held that fraternities, sororities, and other national organizations should not have a role in shaping our student extracurricular experience. The College is eager to discuss resources available to student-leaders of such organizations who wish to transition the governance of their unrecognized groups to ones which are gender inclusive and locally autonomous.
 

Women’s Organizations


We are committed to treating all organizations that are moving towards gender-inclusivity fairly and to offering them Harvard College resources and assistance regardless of gender. As Dean Khurana noted in an open letter in May 2016, Harvard has a long and complex history of grappling with gender discrimination. The College is deeply committed to gender equity, inclusion, and non-discrimination and to advance women's full participation in Harvard's academic and extracurricular life. To that end, we welcome all organizations, and especially those whose membership is currently restricted to women, to partner with us.  We are excited to announce that Heidi Wickersham, Program Manager at the Harvard College Women’s Center, and staff members in the Office of Student Life will jointly partner with groups wishing to transition from having a women’s exclusive membership while maintaining a women’s-focused mission.
 

Violations of USGSO Policy


Any violations of the USGSO policy will be reviewed via the College's usual processes for addressing concerns about community standards. As 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. Further described in the Handbook, in the event that questions of jurisdiction arise, the Danoff Dean of Harvard College will determine the most appropriate presiding organization.