The nation's oldest university has formally recognized Harvard College Munch, a group promoting discussions and safe practices of kinky and alternative sex. The school has no record of a similar group being recognized in its 376-year history.
The Committee on Student Life recognized Munch on Friday, making it one of 400 independent student organizations on campus. The decision occurred more than a year after members began meeting informally over meals.
"Applications for recognition are decided by a student-faculty committee following the review of a committee composed of students and administrators," Harvard spokesman Jeff Neal said in a statement Tuesday. "The college does not endorse the views or activities of any independent student organization."
Harvard is not the first school in the country to formally recognize kinky sex groups, and several active groups exist within the larger community in Cambridge and neighbouring Boston.
Organizers of Harvard College Munch did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday.
In a statement posted on a Harvard website, organizers say the group is for students interested in kink and alternative sexualities to meet and organize relevant events including speakers, discussions and screenings. Munch also has created a safety team to enable victims of abuse or trauma get help.
"It exists to promote a positive and accurate understanding of alternative sexualities and kink on campus, as well as to create a space where college-age adults may reach out to their peers and feel accepted in their own sexuality," the statement said.
"Though existing campus groups range from representing women and men, queer sexualities and orientations, all the way to groups dedicated to abstinence, no other group exists as a forum for students interested in alternative sexualities to explore their identities and develop a community with their peers," organizers said.
The group started with seven people and now has about 30 members. The statement didn't identify any of the members.
The Harvard Crimson school newspaper quotes one founder, identified only as Michael, as saying that recognition "comes with the fact of legitimacy" and shows members are being taken seriously. There are also practical benefits to formal recognition, including the ability to apply for grants, post notices and secure convenient time and locations for meetings, the founder said.
The Crimson reported that the group's efforts to gain official recognition last spring were foiled by trouble finding an adviser and problems with its constitution.Suggest a correction