Harvard University, which has already been sued for discriminating against Asian-American applicants, is being brought to court once again for discriminating against students who opt to join off-campus, same-sex sororities and fraternities.
While Harvard neither endorses nor discourages students from joining off-campus organizations, it does not allow students who are members of a same-sex organization to hold leadership positions at Harvard. Furthermore, the university refuses to endorse these students for prestigious fellowships. Harvard is currently facing two lawsuits seeking to halt the discrimination; one has been filed in federal court in Boston while the other was filed in Massachusetts state court.
Harvard’s reason for opposing same-sex sororities and fraternities is based on its assertion that sexual assaults had taken place at all-male fraternities, and that such assaults could continue to take place in the future. However, the university did not give specific examples of crimes that had taken place when it drew up its rules discriminating against same-sex organizations in 2016, giving rise to speculation that the university is basing its policy on something that might happen rather than actually trying to protect its female students from danger.
It isn’t just the boys who are up in arms, either. The women’s organizations and international sororities are also pressing charges, claiming the rules hurt women more than anyone else. Many women who are proud members of all-women groups either have to give up opportunities that would help them further their careers, or hide their affiliation to these groups from Harvard University. Sororities are then placed in the difficult position of choosing between loss of income from potential members, or including men in their group. Indeed, the two sororities that are suing Harvard have noted that they have lost income as a result of Harvard’s policies. The plaintiffs are making it clear in their lawsuits that Harvard is violating their Title IX rights as well as their First Amendment right to free assembly and are seeking to overturn Harvard’s rule discriminating against their membership in same-sex organizations.
Ironically, Harvard does not seem to care what type of organization a person belongs to. As the lawsuit makes clear, the university’s students could join a white supremacist organization without facing discrimination at Harvard as long as such organization includes both men and women. For Harvard to discriminate against men who want to network with other men and women who want to spend time with other women is simply absurd.
In fact, one of the fraternities that Harvard is discriminating against claims several former presidents as student members. Even so, Harvard is doubling down on its stance, claiming that it in fact promotes inclusivity by literally forcing people to associate with members of the opposite sex by making them ditch other opportunities.
Harvard University students are adults who should have the right to associate with those they wish to associate with without having to worry about being denied opportunities based on their choice. Discriminating against those who want to join a particular type of organization simply because some people in one of those organizations may possibly commit a crime at some point in the future is hardly a foundation for policing voluntary behavior.
While it remains to be seen what type of response Harvard will give in court, it is clear that the university’s politically correct stance has no legal standing. A university is permitted to have its own mission and views on matters; however, it cannot impose these views on students or force their students to associate with certain types of people while avoiding others. To do so is not inclusive; in fact, it is an exclusive policy that is hurting students of all ages, genders and walks of life.
~ Liberty Planet