Second Court Rejects Harvard Efforts to Dismiss Challenges to Discriminatory Policy

By January 16, 2020News Release

A state court judge has denied Harvard’s motion to dismiss sororities’ legal challenge to Harvard’s policy punishing students who participate in single-sex organizations.

“This decision recognizes what we’ve long known to be true: that sorority members have rights to freedom of association and should be free from sex discrimination,” said Emma Quinn-Judge of Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the state case.

“Yet again, a court has thoroughly rejected Harvard’s arguments and concluded that there’s more than sufficient evidence that Harvard interfered with the constitutionally protected rights of its female students,” said Quinn-Judge. “Not only did the court reaffirm that these plaintiff sororities deserve the chance to fight for their members’ rights in court, but the ruling emphasized that Harvard’s policy has had a disproportionate impact on women. Two courts have now concluded that Harvard’s policy may be discriminatory and unlawful. Harvard should listen to the courts and stop taking opportunities away from its students.”

Additionally, Dani Weatherford, CEO of the National Panhellenic Conference, Judson Horras, CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference, released the following joint statement in response to Judge Linda E. Giles’ decision to reject Harvard’s motion to dismiss a state lawsuit challenging its policy of inflicting sanctions on students who are members of single-sex groups:

“For a second time, a court has found what is obvious to nearly anyone who’s looked at this case: There is considerable evidence that Harvard’s policies have violated the rights of its students and done unique harm to women’s spaces in particular.

“It is now long-past time for Harvard to repeal this discriminatory policy. Instead of enforcing a policy that tramples students’ rights at Harvard, we hope the university will join us in productive dialogue about building a healthy and more inclusive campus culture.

“While we remain confident that the facts of this case remain on the side of the students we represent, we know that we can build a stronger culture if we work together as partners.”

The plaintiffs in this state lawsuit and a federal lawsuit have a breadth of support from nearly 100 single-sex organizations, including the 26 sororities of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the 65 fraternities of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), and the organizations in the Cambridge Coalition. Learn more at standuptoharvard.org.

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