In December 2018, Sigma Alpha Epsilon joined several other interfraternal partners in filing a lawsuit against Harvard University in federal court, challenging their overreaching policy which sanctions individual students for choosing to join unrecognized single-sex organizations. In early 2019, Harvard responded by filing a motion to dismiss the case.

Last week, Harvard University dropped its social group sanctions policy. The decision effectively ends the federal lawsuit in which sororities, fraternities, and students challenged that the sanctions policy punishes students who join off-campus, single-sex social organizations. This would have kept members of those groups from receiving fellowships, athletics captaincies, and leadership positions in extracurricular groups. Sigma Alpha Epsilon will continue to stand with our fellow fraternities and sororities to ensure all organizations have equal opportunities for their members to succeed.

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. [The June 29th] 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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