Harvard University is discovering that some of its students take freedom of association seriously.
Last Monday, a number of national fraternities and sororities filed two separate lawsuits, in state and federal court respectively, challenging Harvard’s ham-fisted attempts to impose sanctions, beginning with the Class of 2021, on students who join off-campus, single-gender social clubs.
The national organizations for Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Sigma Chi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, along with Harvard’s chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, filed the federal lawsuit. They were joined by three unnamed Harvard students who are members of all-male social clubs — students who asked the U.S. District Court in Boston to let them proceed under pseudonyms so they could avoid “harassment and threats” from the public and “retribution” from the college.
The federal suit alleges that barring members of single-gender final clubs (secretiveall-male groups), sororities, and fraternities from holding leadership positions in recognized student organizations, becoming varsity team captains, or receiving the college’s endorsement for prestigious fellowships, violates Title IX’s ban on sex-based discrimination and the United States Constitution.