Kent State students share thoughts on ‘Hear Her, Harvard’ controversy

In December 2017, Harvard University administrators and committees made a collective decision to regulate their off-campus social life by placing sanctions on members of single-gender clubs, including sororities and fraternities.

New policies set by Harvard University prevent members of single-gender organizations from taking leadership positions in student government, athletic teams, student organizations and receiving college endorsements for fellowships.

Members of Delta Gamma, Alpha Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta are just a few sororities that have been affected by the regulations set by the university.

Harvard was met with fierce backlash from members of the Greek community, alumni and universities nationwide.

Members of Kent State’s Panhellenic community also voiced their thoughts on the sanctions.

Jenna Palek, a member of Alpha Phi, believes that women who take leadership positions and display pride in their school organizations are the women who become leaders of our nation.

Palek said being a member of Alpha Phi taught her to be independent, become passionate about philanthropy and pushed her further in academics.

“Being well connected at your university is critical when trying to find internships, jobs, housing, etc.” Palek said. “While I know that I would have gotten through college just fine without Greek life, I do owe and credit a lot of my success thus far to Alpha Phi.”

Over the past two years, Harvard has struggled to control Greek life’s social influence among undergraduate students, but the women claim they are being unfairly punished for the actions of their male-counterparts.

Harvard administrators have sought to slowly phase out the off-campus groups, blaming them for hosting alcohol-fueled parties that have led to sexual assaults.

In a joint statement from Harvard sorority chapters titled, “We Believe Women Should Make Their Own Choices,” students announced their decision to push back on the implemented policies by continuing with their standard female-only recruitment for the class of 2021.

Dasha Harris, the head coordinator of fraternity and sorority life at Kent State, was disheartened to hear about the sanctions set by Harvard.

Harris believes this is a time for women in Greek organizations to take a step back and evaluate their roles in their chapter.

“Having a staff position solely dedicated to the operations and future of these single sex organizations, my heart goes out to the students who are affected by the policy,” Harris said. “Fraternity and sorority members are our campus leaders. Our very own Undergraduate Student Government President is a member of our community. I mean could you imagine?”

Harris believes that by continuing the recruitment process, these organizations are sending a necessary message.

“They are standing behind their organizations and that is admirable,” Harris said.

Days after the announcement of sanctions, Harvard students held a rally to express concerns and send a message to University President, Drew Faust, and board members. At the rally, protesters chanted “Hear Her, Harvard,” a slogan later used to spread the message through social media.

“While Harvard’s sanctions claim to support women’s right to make their own decisions, these sanctions actually force women to choose between the opportunity to have supportive, empowering women-only spaces and external leadership opportunities,” said Delta Gamma Headquarters.

Harvard administrators have decided to stick with restrictions despite being met with controversy. Faust said in a statement, “Ultimately, students have the freedom to decide which is more important to them: membership in a gender-discriminatory organization or access to those privileges and resources.”

Members and alumni of Delta Gamma at Kent State also took initiative to share their thoughts on the issue on social media by using the hashtag #WithoutMySorority.

“If you forbid these girls from holding leadership positions then you are forcing them to be silent and are taking away their freedom to empower and educate other students,” Palek said. “It is extremely heartbreaking to know that there are women at Harvard who are being punished for sticking up for what they believe in especially knowing that this same type of issue could have happened to Kent State.”

Hana Hodali is the Greek life reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

Meghann Morrow is the student affairs reporter. Contact her at [email protected].