REPORT: Harvard Fires Back in Legal Battle Over Single-Sex Greek Clubs
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Harvard has brought its legal firepower to bear against fraternities, sororities and other single-sex clubs suing to hang on to their role as havens of social life at the school.
The college’s new policy on single-sex social clubs — endorsed by former president Drew Faust, the first woman to lead the school — doesn’t ban them. But the rules, which cover the incoming Class of 2021, do provide a powerful disincentive to joining the off-campus organizations, barring members from leading sports teams and receiving the school’s endorsement for coveted prizes such as the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships.
On Friday, the school asked state and federal judges in Massachusetts to dismiss a pair of lawsuits, filed in federal and state courts in Massachusetts in December, that claim the policy discriminates against the clubs on the basis of sex and violates students’ freedom of association.
Harvard claims the rules are “lawful and wholly sex-neutral” and that the Greek clubs have no right to impose their culture or influence on the school. It argues the accusations of gender discrimination are “false” and have no legal foundation, and that the plaintiffs can’t provide any evidence of a student being harmed. The statement reads:
“Harvard controls its own resources and endorsements, and students preserve the right to join organizations of their own choosing. This court should reject plaintiffs’ invitation to expand the laws to create a new kind of lawsuit that Congress did not create and no court has countenanced.”
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