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Harvard Sued Over its Policies on Single-Gender Organizations

Several sororities and fraternities have sued the Harvard University over its policy barring members of single-gender social organizations from holding campus leadership positions.

A pair of lawsuits has been filed against the university in the state and federal court by Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma Fraternity, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Sigma Chi, Sigma Alpha Epsilon and three current students.

The suit alleges Harvard of putting a blanket ban on members of single-gender social clubs from leading the campus athletics teams or getting recommendation letters from professors to apply for fellowships.

The suit terms the university’s 2016 policy as a “campaign of threats” and “intimidation” to force students to give up their rights to free association and live free of sex discrimination.

“As a result of this policy, almost all of the once vibrant sororities and women’s final clubs open to Harvard women have either closed or had to renounce their proud status as women’s social organizations,” Renee Zainer, International President of Alpha Phi, a plaintiff organization in the state case said.

“Together, we are standing up to Harvard on behalf of all students, because they have the right to shape their own leadership and social paths. Harvard simply can’t erase the spaces students value for support and opportunity.”

According to the website standuptoharvard.org, the lawsuit has the support of more than 100 single-sex organizations, 66 fraternities of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), and 26 sororities of the National Panhellenic Conference.

“It is baffling that Harvard boasts that its students are among the brightest minds in the world, yet administrators won’t trust them to make decisions about how they choose to associate with one another,” said Judson Horras, the President, and CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference.

“Harvard ignores the proven value of single-sex experiences, despite the fact that Drew Faust, the Harvard President who put the sanctions into place, benefitted from attending an all-women’s academy and college, and current President Lawrence Bacow has publicly praised the value of his own fraternity experience.”

The suit is seeking a court injunction forcing the university to rescind its “discriminatory” policy. The university, meanwhile, has not issued any statement on the latest developments.

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