Harry Lewis Leading October 4 Vote Against Single Gender Club Sanctions


Harry R. Lewis ‘68 is at the forefront of a brewing faculty rebellion against Dean Khurana and President Faust’s new sanctions.

Harry R. Lewis ‘68 says he had never been inside a final club until an acquaintance invited him in when he was about thirty-five. But that has not stopped him from fighting for their continued existence. And on October 4, when Dean Khurana’s proposed sanctions on single gender clubs go up for a vote amongst the faculty, he will be doing just that.

From penning viral articles and blog posts to submitting motions in University faculty meetings, Lewis has emerged as an unexpected thorn in the side of the current administration’s efforts to overhaul undergraduate social life. The motion that will be voted upon was penned by Lewis and eleven other colleagues. These colleagues include such prominent names as Steven Pinker and Helen Vendler. According to Lewis, all of these colleagues – with one exception – got in touch with Lewis after his letter against the sanctions first appeared in the Crimson and were not in fact recruited by him. “I replied by asking them if they would join in making a motion,” he says.

Ahead of the vote, Lewis says that he has received “only positive response” from fellow faculty members on his articles against the sanctions. One recent article, co-penned with Margo I. Seltzer ‘83 and Eric M. Nelson ‘99 in the Harvard Crimson and entitled “No Values Tests,” argued that “not since the Puritan era has Harvard assumed such a posture of authority over the beliefs and associations of its students.”

Lewis says he has not been doing any kind of polling, so he does not have any way of knowing what kind of support there is, or will be at the October 4 meeting. But that does not mean he has not tried to convince them. “Would you think it was appropriate for Harvard to apply the same standard to you?” he says is his elevator pitch to any fellow faculty members still on the fence on the sanctions.

“After I put the question that way to the Faculty Council, I was reminded that it is actually improper to raise a question about social club membership during a hiring interview,” Lewis says. He supposes the theory behind that policy is that “you shouldn’t be asking about things that are irrelevant to one’s ability to do the job.” According to him, the nondiscrimination motion simply establishes the same policy for undergraduates as Harvard already has for hiring.

“A child of the freedom loving 1960’s,” Lewis sees himself as doing his bit in preventing Harvard from turning into a nanny state. “We fought to end that.”

Aditya Agrawal (adityaagrawal@college.harvard.edu) looks forward to the vote.