Harvard's Fox Club Boots Women, Reverts to All-Male Membership

The club, one of many such off-campus groups that aren't officially recognized by the school but confer status and opportunity to members (whose chummy connections to powerful Harvard alumni could safely be said to be pretty advantageous), had been all-male until two years ago, when nine women were allowed membership after pressure from school administrators.

In 2015, one of Harvard's elite social clubs admitted nine female members. Membership is for life, and alumni largely control the club through its graduate board. At the time, several male students accepted provisional membership in solidarity, and only they have been invited to re-apply, according to screenshots of correspondence obtained by the Crimson.

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The graduate board is now revoking membership for all "provisional" members.

The Rev. Douglas Sears, who served as graduate board president when the women joined, calls the decision a "travesty" and says the women should be members.

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Back when the issue first gained steam, the clubs were urged to cut it out with the gender-restricted societies, or face consequences including current, university-attending members getting barred from holding athletic and academic leadership positions or receiving recommendations for prestigious fellowships.

The move was announced in May 2016, when then-Harvard President Drew Faust wrote a letter to students concerning social clubs (including the final clubs, fraternities and sororities). In that letter, Faust referred to a report that indicated that single-gender clubs contributed to on-campus sexual assaults and perpetuated "deeply rooted gender attitudes".

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"(If) all the clubs went coed, there is a distinct possibility female clubs will die out", wrote three prominent female Harvard alumnae in an op-ed to the student newspaper The Harvard Crimson. The decision sparked debate over whether a college has the power to monitor students' off-campus activities. A Harvard committee is now reviewing the proposed regulations on single gender social clubs and will release its findings in the fall.

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