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Joseph Williams / CC 2.0

Various all-male groups at Harvard University are responding to the administration's calls for change by making the shift into gender-neutral groups. 

The President of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at Harvard  announced last week that the club had finished its transformation into Aleph, a gender-neutral club. This came after the fraternity disaffiliated from the national organization in April. 

Earlier in September, Harvard’s chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity also announced that it was forgoing its national charter to become a gender-neutral group called KS. Eight other groups on campus have taken similar steps in transforming their membership to gender-neutral in order to avoid penalties imposed by the University. 

For over a year now, Harvard administrators have campaigned to minimize participation in single-gender clubs with the aim of increasing inclusivity and reducing the threat of sexual assault. 

In March 2016, Harvard’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevent released a 20-page report lambasting single-gender, all-male clubs also known as "Final Clubs" for propagating "misogynistic attitudes" and an atmosphere of "sexual entitlement." 

After the report, Harvard attempted to penalize participants in all-male social clubs — as well as those involved in other single-gendered social groups like fraternities and sororities — by prohibiting them from serving as leaders of on campus groups or sporting teams. The policy also bars such students from getting support from the University for scholarships. These policies have applied to all undergraduate students in the class of 2021.

Harvard’s new policy towards single-gender groups has been in the works since the 1980s and is likely modeled after similar sanctions at Williams College and Bowdoin College, Slate reported. 

The policy at Williams, which has been in effect since 1962, bans any student involvement in Greek life and may penalize rule breakers with suspension or expulsion. 

Bowdoin has barred its students from joining Greek life since fall 1997 and phased out its existing fraternities by 2000. 

Following widespread outcry towards a sexually exploitative email which was sent to freshmen by the off campus organization OZ, Penn announced the formation of a task force last November to address the role of off campus organizations at Penn. 

In August, the University announced that it would begin to implement a series of recommendations created in conjunction by the task force and current students, though it has remained unclear how the University plans on making off-campus groups comply with these recommendations. 

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