Speed Reads

no girls allowed

Secret Harvard Men's club breaks 225-year silence to say admitting women could increase sexual assault

A secret Harvard University club has made a public comment for the first time in its 225-year history to say that if it were to admit women members, it would potentially increase instances of sexual assault, The Washington Post reports.

Such secret, elite clubs at Harvard have come under fire since a report last month linked them to "nonconsensual sexual contact." Separately, Harvard College Dean Rakesh Khurana has said that "single-gender social organizations at Harvard College remain at odds with the aspirations of the 21st century society to which the College hopes and expects our students will contribute." Harvard's Porcellian Club, which was founded in 1791, has pushed back on the pressure to include women by pointing to the reports of sexual assault.

Porcellian Club member Charles M. Storey, Class of 1982, is one such person who finds the situation befuddling. "Given our policies, we are mystified as to why the current administration feels that forcing our club to accept female members would reduce the incidence of sexual assault on campus. Forcing single-gender organizations to accept members of the opposite sex could potentially increase, not decrease the potential for sexual misconduct," he wrote to Harvard's newspaper, The Crimson.

"The college is trying to expel students for joining our club by arguing that we contribute to the problem of sexual assault on campus," a graduate member of the Porcellian Club told The Washington Post, speaking anonymously due to the club's secrecy rules. "We don't host parties. We don't allow guests on the premises of our club. How could we possibly be connected to the problem of sexual assault on campus?"

Harvard's upper administration plans to meet with the clubs to try to reach a kind of consensus on inclusion, and Storey has warned a legal challenge could follow, stating that as the club is independent of Harvard financially, and that it is their right to set the rules.

"Our club is about developing deep male friendships, a level of community that is rare in today's disconnected, bowling-alone world. We don't want to be involved in anyone else's business, we just want to be left alone to carry on our 225-year traditions in peace," the graduate student said.