I’ve been a member of the fraternity Kappa Alpha Theta since 2012, my junior year in college. Since I joined, I have had a support system of women who empower me, and help me to be the best version of myself that I can be. I’ve had an organization that I represent, and through it, I’ve met many other empowered women, and been awarded different opportunities because of it. So when I heard that Harvard is punishing women for belonging to organizations like this, including their chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta, I couldn’t just let that go.
What the decision-makers at Harvard don’t realize is how much they are hurting women, and men, by instilling these sanctions. Recently they have decided that banning single-sex organizations is the proper way to move forward. What they don’t realize is, they have now set us back to before sororities existed, back to the times that my fraternity’s founders, because yes, Kappa Alpha Theta was started before sorority was even a word, had to fight to have an organization for women to support other women, on a college campus, nearly 150 years ago. For those women who have decided to fight back, and not follow these sanctions, they are facing punishment that could negatively affect them in the future. Why? Because they want an all-woman group to support them. By refusing to leave Kappa Alpha Theta, or rebrand, into a gender-neutral group, they are no longer able to captain sports teams or have leadership roles in campus positions or have school endorsements for academic fellowships. Does that sound right to you? Because to me, it sounds like forcing women to choose, between multiple extra-curriculars that benefit them.
When I joined Theta, I was welcomed into a group that encouraged academics, that encouraged following your dreams, and that was willing to support you when you needed it. I was on the payment plan, because I could not afford the sorority dues outright, and I had women supporting me and helping me work out how I could be a part of this organization, without going broke in the process. I had sisters who would lift me up when I was feeling down, whether it was having a bad group for a presentation or being dumped by a guy I liked. I had a whole network of sisters who could have tutored me if I needed it, and I was available to fellow sisters to help them with homework if necessary too. I always had a sister to call up, and spend time with if I was feeling lonely or needed to get out of my apartment. I also had sisters to study with. Even if we were all in different classes, we were still able to get together, and have library study sessions. So, Harvard, how dare you try to take that away from women? How dare you take away an organization that encourages women to help others, that encourages community service, and a philanthropy? That encourages physical activity? Instead, you are restraining women who are a part of this organization and could lead their volleyball team to victory as captain, or lead another academic club, but instead they will not be allowed to hold officer positions.
I can tell you that in college, in addition to being in Theta, I was also in various clubs and activities, including an officer position in an honor society. According to the new sanctions, if I wanted to do that at Harvard, I wouldn’t be able to. They would stop me from bettering myself, and learning responsibilities that one can only get as an officer of a club, because I was an officer and member of a sorority. Sounds like the opposite of encouraging education and diversity. Sounds like you are penalizing women who are go-getters, who want to better themselves and their community.
So for that, I have to say, shame on you Harvard. The Theta that I was a part of in college, and am still a part of now, is inclusive, welcoming, and encouraging. It supports women from all walks of life, and encourages life-long friends. It encourages getting to know other groups, other people, and working together with them in a variety of different forms. But thanks to these sanctions, women will be punished for belonging to a group like this. In a way that could expand far past her college career. So I’m lending my voice to those fighting. You go girls! You keep fighting the good fight the way our founders did, you have women all over the country supporting you and cheering you on. TLAM Always. #HearHerHarvard.