Elite Harvard Club Says Admitting Women Could Increase Sexual Assaults

April 14, 2016 11:42 a.m.

The graduate president of one of Harvard’s elite final clubs apologized Wednesday after he said that admitting women to the club could increase the risk for sexual assault.

Following Harvard’s requests for all final clubs to admit women, Charles M. Storey, graduate board president of the Porcellian Club and president of Harpoon Brewery, pushed back, The Harvard Crimson reported.

“Given our policies, we are mystified as to why the current administration feels that forcing our club to accept female members would reduce the incidence of sexual assault on campus,” Storey wrote in an email to the school’s student newspaper. “Forcing single gender organizations to accept members of the opposite sex could potentially increase, not decrease the potential for sexual misconduct.”

The backlash against Storey’s comments was swift, with Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and university officials slamming his remarks as sexist and exclusionary.

Rakesh Khurana, a Harvard dean, told The Boston Globe in an email that “the college has a responsibility to protect our values and our students’ well-being, even in the face of perceived short-term challenges of changing the status quo.”

Following the criticism, Storey issued a statement on the Harpoon Brewery website clarifying his remarks.

“Unfortunately, I chose my words poorly and it came out all wrong,” the statement said. “This failure has led to extreme and unfortunate misinterpretations, which were not my intentions at all. I take the issue of sexual assault extremely seriously, and I am truly sorry to those I have offended.”

The university’s call to for the elite, secretive clubs to admit women comes after a task force found that male-only final clubs were a large factor in sexual assaults among students, The Boston Globe reported.

“Cultures that reflect male control and exclusivity encourage the marginalization of women and assumptions about sexual entitlement,” the report said, according to The Globe.

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