Students Win! Harvard drops social group sanctions policy

Monday, plaintiffs in the federal case challenging Harvard’s sanctions policy that punishes students for joining single-sex social organizations filed a motion for a preliminary or permanent injunction. Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark civil rights decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, Harvard’s policy unquestionably constitutes unlawful sex discrimination in violation of Title IX. Additionally, internal Harvard documents produced in the case demonstrate that Harvard’s policy was motivated by impermissible sex stereotypes and anti-male bias, also in violation of Title IX.

Both federal and state courts previously rejected Harvard’s efforts to dismiss the challenges to its discriminatory policy.

We are pleased to announce that Harvard University dropped its social group sanctions policy later in the day as a result of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Bostock v. Clayton!

Dani Weatherford, CEO of the National Panhellenic Conference, and Judson Horras, CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference, released the following joint statement on Harvard’s decision to drop its sanctions policy:

While we believe the discriminatory nature of Harvard’s policy was apparent long ago, we are nonetheless gratified to see that Harvard will no longer seek to enforce such an unlawful policy.

Our focus has always been on the freedom of association rights of students and on the particularly acute harm that this policy has done to women’s-only organizations on Harvard’s campus. Today’s announcement from the university is nothing short of an admission that their policy was misguided and openly discriminatory based on sex. This should serve as a lesson to Harvard and other universities—students are free to associate with other students without regard to their gender, and targeting single-sex student organizations is illegal and wrong.

While we are pleased that this policy will no longer hang over Harvard students, we are also painfully aware that its effects will linger – particularly for women’s-only organizations that were decimated by this policy.

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June 30, 2020

Media contact:
Todd Shelton