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Fraternities, Sororities Sue Over Harvard Single-Sex Club Rule

December 4, 2018

A group of fraternities and sororities has filed a lawsuit against Harvard University, alleging that its rules against single-sex clubs constitute discrimination.

The collection of Greek organizations has sued in both federal and state court in Massachusetts, arguing that a policy that dissuades students from joining the “final clubs” violates the federal law that protects against gender discrimination, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and the equivalent civil rights law in the state.

Enacted in 2016, the rule started being enforced this academic year in an attempt to stamp out the controversial all-male final clubs. Students who join a single-sex organization are not allowed to lead other campus groups or captain a sports team. But the policy against the final clubs applied to many other groups -- including fraternities and sororities. Since the rule took effect, some sororities have opted to become co-ed.

“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 sorority in the state case, said in a statement. “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.”

Harvard officials did not respond to request for comment.


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