Two years after Harvard University said it would penalize students who joined fraternities, sororities and finals clubs, a campus sorority chapter is shutting down.
The Delta Gamma sorority announced Sunday that it had voted unanimously to honor a request by its Cambridge chapter, Zeta Phi, to close.
“This decision does not mean that we are succumbing to the University’s new sanctions and policies,” the president of Delta Gamma’s national organization, Wilma Johnson Wilbanks, said in a statement.
“We will continue to champion our right to exist on campuses everywhere,” her statement said. “We believe the value of sorority is too great.”
In the spring of 2016, Harvard introduced a new policy targeting what it called “unrecognized single-gender social organizations,” including fraternities, sororities and final clubs, the private organizations long associated with a culture of exclusivity on Harvard’s campus.
The policy dictated that students who joined those groups, which are not officially recognized by the school, would be barred from athletics and from leadership positions in other student organizations. They would also be ineligible to receive official endorsement for prestigious scholarships.
The new rules were not addressed to current undergraduates or those matriculating in the fall of 2017, but were in effect this spring.
In an email to students, Harvard’s president at the time, Drew Gilpin Faust, said that fraternities and sororities enacted “forms of privilege and exclusion at odds with our deepest values” and said that the school could not “endorse selection criteria that reject much of the student body merely because of gender.”
The Delta Gamma chapter’s decision to close takes place amid a more general drop in interest in rushing sororities, according to The Harvard Crimson, which reported the news of the closure. In the spring, the paper found that the number of students looking to join sororities across campus had fallen by about 60 percent.
Ms. Wilbanks’s statement said the policy had “resulted in an environment in which Delta Gamma could not thrive,” and concluded, “We sincerely hope this changes in the future.”
Delta Gamma’s membership policy is that it welcomes “all individuals who identify as women.” The group was early to actively welcome transgender people.
The Zeta Phi chapter is the first campus group to close entirely in response to Harvard’s new policy. Others have changed their policies: the campus’s Kappa Alpha Theta chapter last week announced that it would become gender-neutral while its Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority chapter in the fall became coed, changing its name to Fleur-de-Lis.
Neither Margaret Wilson, the Zeta Phi chapter’s president, nor Sherry Gao, its vice president of communications, immediately responded to requests for comment.