Greek Organizations #Stand up to Harvard

Edited by Avleen Grewal

 

Throughout the week, members of Greek-letter organizations across the United States and Canada have been posting to social media to address Harvard University’s sanctions against single-gendered clubs on campus. The hashtag #StanduptoHarvard has made rounds across social media platforms, bringing attention to the lawsuit between these organizations and Harvard.

In response to a crackdown on sexual assault and harassment case, the university has released a report under the ‘Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault’ in 2016. Under this report, members of single-gendered clubs which include sororities, fraternities, and all-gendered choir groups cannot hold leadership positions on campus or apply for fellowships or scholarships.

“The Task Force believes that to respond effectively to the president’s charge, we must ask what sort of community we aspire to be. Consequently, this report not only addresses specific factors that increase the risk of sexual assault but also considers what it means to be a citizen of this campus and the nature of our responsibilities to one another,” the report stated.

Consequently, sororities and fraternities at Harvard are suing the university stating that the rules imposed are sexist and discriminatory against students in those organizations. Fraternities Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Sigma Chi and sororities Kappa Kappa Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta, alongside three Harvard students have filed a federal lawsuit against Harvard claiming that their rules prevent women from forming safe-spaces on campus that has historically been male-dominated and makes sexist assumptions.

A local lawsuit in Massachusetts has been filed by a local chapter of Alpha Phi and Delta Gamma’s management corporation.

What does this lawsuit mean for Greek life across North America? If Harvard wins both lawsuits, it can have very detrimental effects against the future operations of sororities and fraternities on college campuses who may follow suit in cracking down on single-gendered clubs. Harvard’s sororities and fraternities are unaffiliated, so is the University of Toronto’s. Losing a chapter in an influential university could not only lose membership but can influence the decisions of other universities who are facing the same issue.

It can also affect future opportunities for students in sororities and fraternities. These students are denied the same opportunities as classmates because of their decisions to join a single-gendered club. For instance, a student cannot be an editor at a newspaper while serving an executive position at their organization, rather, they would be denied of that opportunity completely. Academic scholarships and fellowships are also denied, leaving out students who depend on funding to finance their education.

However, not all Greek organizations are considered single-gendered, rather, more are becoming progressive. Quite a few sororities and fraternities accept members who are transgender. Sororities and fraternities such as Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Alpha Omicron, Delta Upsilon, and Alpha Delta Phi have a policy on accepting members who identify as female or male...but will this be enough to sway Harvard’s ruling?