Harvard’s Clubs: So Much for Faculty Governance

The right to take a vote doesn’t make the result meaningful, as one committee at Harvard found out:

On Friday, the Crimson reported that the surprising recommendation to ban all social organizations received only 7 votes from the 27-member Committee on the Unrecognized Single-Gender Social Organizations, which had been empaneled to review implementation of last year’s plan to blacklist members of off-campus single-gender clubs. And according to the Crimson, despite other proposals garnering more support, the committee “never conducted another vote.”

The whole saga of Harvard and social organisations has been a sorry one.  They started by attempting to ban students from single-sex organisations (how that would play out with the trangender business is a subject in its own right) but that got pushback.  Then they proposed to ban all social organisations, which is also getting pushback.  Now we see that the “voting” and “committee” business has been sidetracked.

Most accreditation processes make faculty governance a requirement, but anyone involved in academia knows that this is often honoured in the breach.  Conservatives generally regard faculty governance as giving the inmates control over the asylum, but that assumption needs to be re-examined in view of this.

Anti-discrimination legislation and regulation is giving freedom of association the squeeze these days.  The long-term effect–perhaps desired–of pushing social organisations out of college life is to make the only focus of the students the college itself.  In a world where civic and even private life is cornered in this way, the result will be like the Ottoman “slave institution,” the Janissaries, whose loyalty (in theory) was only to the Sultan.  In a country where an Ivy League education is the necessary ticket to the top in so many fields, this will only accelerate an unfortunate trend.

Personally I had little use for social fraternities, and went to a school (Texas A&M) where they were virtually nonexistent.  But that was the result of the school’s compulsory military status, one not even a decade past when I started.  But I think that a person should have the choice to opt in or out of such a system.

The Turks refer to the end of the Janissaries as “auspicious.”  If Harvard and the other Ivy League schools don’t desist from social engineering like this–which they will then push on the rest of us–they may find their own auspicious moment.

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