Harvard University's all-female sorority Kappa Alpha Theta is set to become gender-neutral and change its name to “Theta Zeta Xi” amid the school’s crackdown on single-gender social clubs.
The sorority on Monday announced its decision to disaffiliate from its national organization, change the name and become inclusive to people of all genders in the fall of 2018.
The all-female club said in a statement that the move is linked to the university administration’s efforts to penalize discriminatory social clubs, noting that the club is acting “in good faith with Harvard’s social organization and nondiscrimination policies,” the Harvard Crimson reported.
The administration is officially penalizing members of single-gender social clubs, with penalties such as barring members of such clubs from holding student leadership positions, varsity athletic team captaincies and even from receiving College endorsement for fellowships.
“This decision reflects our commitment to supporting our members as they take full advantage of the academic and leadership opportunities available to them as Harvard students, which we believe is central to our mission,” the statement added, pointing out that the members of the sorority voted unanimously to become all-gender club.
The sorority previously took a different stance. Last year, after Harvard administration voted to adopt the sanctions on single-gender clubs, the group released a statement pledging to continue its tradition of allowing only women to be the members, the Boston Globe reported.
“These sanctions unfairly force women to choose between the opportunity to have supportive, empowering female-only spaces and external leadership opportunities,” the statement read.
Since the vote to penalize single-gender clubs, a number of fraternities and other male-dominated social clubs decided to become open to everyone, but all-female groups were more reluctant to embrace the change.
The women’s groups were previously promised to be given extra time to adopt to the changes without facing any immediate penalties, but such exemption was scrapped earlier this year, the Crimson reported.
Elizabeth A. Rinck, director of communications of the international Kappa Alpha Theta, from which the Harvard sorority is disaffiliating, told the Crimson that the organization was sad to see the group leave the partnership, but put the blame on the Harvard administration.
“While we are saddened by circumstances that forced our sisters to make an impossible choice, we support their desire to form an organization independent of Kappa Alpha Theta and recognized by Harvard University, giving current and future members the ability to participate fully in college life,” she said.