Harvard University has imposed a policy that punishes students for simply belonging to private, single-sex organizations like National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) member sororities. Students have the right to shape their own futures—it’s time to stand up to Harvard! Phi Mu stands in support of the group of sororities, fraternities and students who filed lawsuits on December 3, 2018, challenging Harvard.
Take a stand with us at www.standuptoharvard.org.
We’ve been asked: but why does this matter to me as a Phi Mu? We don’t have a chapter at Harvard. National President Andie Kash, Delta Eta, Georgetown College, explained: “As one of the oldest women’s organizations in the United States, Phi Mu Fraternity has produced generations of vibrant leaders who benefitted from membership. Although we do not have a chapter at Harvard, it is our responsibility to support our Panhellenic sisters there.”
Along with wanting to support our fellow NPC organizations and their Harvard chapters, if this policy stands, it could be adopted by other institutions of higher education – where we do have a Phi Mu chapter or where we hope to establish (or re-open) a chapter.
In Phi Mu Fraternity, anyone who identifies as a woman is eligible for membership. In the messaging specifically related to the Harvard lawsuits that Phi Mu supports, the phrase “single-sex” used is because Title IX specifically uses this phrase when referring to women’s and men’s organizations such as sororities and fraternities. The suits are geared around Title IX, so it is important to reflect the law’s phrasing, so as not to confuse or conflate the legal arguments or position. Phi Mu most commonly refers to itself as a “women’s fraternity” or an “all-women’s organization” with the understanding that we define “woman” as anyone who identifies as such.
Before Harvard announced its policy, one in four undergraduate students there belonged to sororities, fraternities or all-women’s or all-men’s final clubs – opportunities protected by Title IX and the First Amendment. Starting this fall, members at Harvard have been stripped of opportunities to hold leadership roles in organizations and athletic teams, and to obtain post-graduate fellowships and scholarships influenced or controlled by Harvard.
The impact on women’s organizations has been devastating. Almost all of the all-women’s sororities and final clubs at Harvard have either closed or had to renounce their proud status as women’s groups and commit to admitting men. Harvard has erased these empowering women’s organizations designed to create opportunities, resources and sustainable networks built by women for women. This policy blatantly infringes on the rights of Harvard students.
We will continue to ask for support and share updates as it will likely be at least one year before the lawsuits go to trial.
Our NPC sisters and Phi Mu needs you! Learn more and sign the petition at www.standuptoharvard.org. Share our social media posts on @PhiMu, @PhiMuFraternity and @NPCWomen using #StandUpToHarvard, to add your voice to the support as we STAND UP TO HARVARD.
For additional news, see Fraternities, Sororities Sue Harvard Over Single-Sex Rule on the New York Times online, Sororities, Fraternities Sue Harvard over Social Club Crackdown on the Boston Globe online and Lawsuits Say Harvard’s Anti-Sexism Policy Discriminates Against Women on Buzzfeed.