Single-Sex Fraternal Experiences

NIC Position: Students have the right to participate in a positive and enriching single-sex fraternal experience that aligns with the conference’s Standards.

Clarifying Points:

  1. NIC stands firmly opposed to any policy or practice that would not permit students the personal choice of whether they want to be members of single-sex social organizations.
  2. As a private membership organization, each NIC member fraternity determines its membership criteria.
  3. Fraternity members should be treated equitably in comparison to students at an institution of higher education who do not participate in single-sex or co-ed social organizations and in comparison to students who participate in non-fraternal student organizations.
  4. No host institution should take adverse action against a fraternity based solely on its membership practice of limiting membership to men. Likewise, no host institution should take adverse action against an individual fraternity member based solely on his membership in a single-sex social organization.


  1. Fraternities have existed at institutions of higher education for over 200 years, where they have played, and should continue to play, unique roles in the development of young men by creating brotherhoods that foster leadership, promote academic achievement, and encourage civic and campus involvement through philanthropic activities. By instilling values in young men, fraternities have a unique ability to shape them into leaders on their campuses and in their communities.
  2. Fraternities have never been more relevant to a generation of student leaders than they are today. This is due to the values they espouse, the life skills they teach, and the lifelong friendships and support networks they create. Fraternities are the premier leadership development experience on college campuses and have the ability to change the lives of individuals and the culture of a community. It is because of this great potential for positive impact that the NIC advocates for the advancement and growth of the fraternity community. The educational mission of the host institutions and the ideals of fraternity can work in concert to create a positive force in the campus community.
  3. Freedom of association—the freedom of joining, assembling, and residing with others—is protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, and allows individuals to create spaces that are safe, welcoming, empowering, enabling, uninhibited, and free.

Supporting Resources:

  • Review of Research on Single Sex Experience
  • Title IX Exemption for Single Sex Organizations: “the membership practices of social fraternities whose active membership consists primarily of students in attendance at an institution of higher education are exempted from the provisions of Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972”
  • In Roberts v. United States Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609 (1984), the U.S. Supreme Court stated: Consequently, we have long understood as implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment a corresponding right to association with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends. … Government actions that may unconstitutionally infringe upon this freedom can take a number of forms. Among other things, government may seek to impose penalties or withhold benefits from individuals because of their membership in a disfavored group. … [A]nd it may try to interfere with the internal organization or affairs of the group. … [I]infringements on that right may be justified [only] by regulations adopted to serve compelling state interests, unrelated to the suppression of ideas, that cannot be achieved through means significantly less restrictive of associational freedoms
  • It is the position of NIC that this rule of law is also applicable to private institutions of higher learning. Alpha Tau Omega v. Univ. of Pa., 10 Phila. 149, 150 n.1 (Common Pleas Ct. 1983) (“it is a matter of national policy that higher education is a public function”); Ryan v. Hofstra Univ., 67 Misc. 2d 651, 663-69, 324 N.Y.S.2d 964, 977-83 (Sup. Ct. 1971), supplementary judgment, 68 Misc. 2d 890, 328 N.Y.S.2d 339 (Sup. Ct. 1972) (private universities perform a “governmental function”)