On Monday, January 8, 2018, the Harvard chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma announced that it had disbanded from its national organization and would reform as a gender-neutral club.
Harvard announced a new set of social group penalties in May 2016, stating that any undergraduate student that is a member of unrecognized single-gender social organizations will be banned from holding athletic team captaincies and leadership positions in all recognized student groups. They are also ineligible for certain college endorsements, according to The Harvard Crimson.
Kappa Kappa Gamma is the first sorority to become gender-neutral since these now policies were put in place. The sorority has been renamed as “Fleur-de-Lis,” which will be open to both men and women regardless of the group being intended for “female-identifying individuals.”
- What is Fleur-de-Lis? Fleur-de-Lis refers to a lily flower that is often used as a decorative design. It is generally considered to be religious, political, symbolic and dynastic. It is used by many sororities and fraternities around the world.
The decision made by Kappa Kappa Gamma came shortly after their national chapter announced it was “profoundly disappointed” in Harvard’s decision to make their social group policy official, according to The Crimson.
The president of the Fleur-de-Lis, Tiana Menon, mentioned the influence of Harvard’s policy that banned members of single-gender groups from holding positions in campus leadership on the decision to go gender neutral.
Menon game the following statement to The Daily Caller:
“The formation of The Fleur is the culmination of numerous discussions spanning the last two or so years within Harvard’s Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma and with the administration,” said Tiana Menon, president of the Fleur-de-Lis. “[Administrators] have helped shape the path we as a group have chosen to pursue.”
Although Fleur-de-Lis is the first sorority at Harvard to go gender-neutral, they weren’t the ones that started the movement.
The decision of Fleur-de-Lis followed the decision of fraternities Kappa Sigma and Alpha Epsilon Phi to open their doors to all students no matter their gender.
Members of the Harvard chapter of Kappa Sigma wrote the following statement for The Harvard Crimson, stating that the change wasn’t directly related to the single-gender club policy:
“Irrespective of the proposed sanctions and unilateral decision-making of the university, we do not believe that gender should preclude students from joining an organization that simply values character, camaraderie, and diverse social experiences,” the group wrote.
According to The Crimson, the dean of Harvard, Rakesh Khurana, thinks that the changes made by greek life at Harvard are just what this generation needs to see.
According to the FAQ page of the Fleur’s new website, being a gender-neutral club means that no student would ever be denied membership based on gender. Their mission is to create a safe, empowering space for students on campus.
Over the past three years, The Oak Club, the Sabliere Society, the Seneca, and the Spee Club all went gender neutral also.
Khurana stated that the college would be releasing an official plan outlining how they would be enforcing the new policies sometime in January or February, according to The Crimson.
Although some sororities chose to flat out defy the social group policy put in place by Harvard, Kappa Kappa Gamma’s decision to break away from their strict gender roles is a decision that is being highly praised by many people both inside and outside of the Harvard community.