After Harvard University announced May 6, 2016, that it would sanction students who are members of single-gender organizations, fraternal organizations came together to urge the university to reconsider its policy. Today, Campus Pride, the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups, joins the organizations to advocate for student rights and ask Harvard to refocus on effective strategies to further campus safety and inclusion.
“Harvard’s policy will not fix the serious campus problems of sexual assault or discrimination—much less classism and racism,” said Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer. “It will only drive them further underground. Blocking access or restricting rights is never the answer to complex issues. Simple solutions only end up hurting more people in the long term. Instead, we encourage Harvard to reconsider its policy and take a more complex, strategic ownership and responsibility in directly addressing the concerns at heart by all its student populations.”
Read Campus Pride’s full statement below as well as the updated joint statement from Campus Pride, the NIC and other fraternal organizations.
INDIANAPOLIS, May 9, 2016—Officials from the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO), the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA), and Campus Pride, issue the following statements in response to the policy announced Friday, May 6, 2016, by Harvard University that would sanction students who are members of single-gender organizations, beginning with the class entering 2017. At Harvard, fraternities and sororities—which are private organizations—are not affiliated with the university.
Joint Statement from Dani Weatherford, Executive Director of the National Panhellenic Conference; Francisco Lugo, Commissioner of Member Services for the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations; Judson Horras, President and CEO of the North-American Interfraternity Conference; Mark Koepsell, Executive Director and CEO of the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors; and Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director of Campus Pride
“While we understand and share Harvard’s goals of creating a safe and equitable environment for students, we are discouraged and disappointed by the policy announced Friday, as it mistakenly assumes the way to achieve those ends is to punish students for participating in single-gender organizations. We urge Harvard to reconsider this policy. Not only does it deny students the basic right of free association, it penalizes them for involvement in fraternities and sororities—experiences that foster leadership, personal growth and the very sense of engagement college is designed to create.”
Additional Statement from Weatherford, National Panhellenic Conference
“Sorority membership calls on women to empower each other and provides powerful spaces of support, something as important today as it has ever been. We strongly encourage our Harvard colleagues to consider the ramifications this policy shift will have on programs and opportunities for women on campus. While we support efforts to forcefully address sexual assault on every campus, punishing women for being members of single-gender organizations is not the answer.”
Additional Statement from Lugo, National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations
“Students in culturally-based fraternities and sororities are also punished by Harvard’s policy. Our organizations provide a powerful experience for underrepresented students, and if Harvard is seeking to make campus more inclusive and equitable, removing opportunities for these students goes directly against that goal.”
Additional Statement from Horras, North-American Interfraternity Conference
“This policy not only violates student rights, it takes focus off real issues around campus safety. Our organizations and the university need to get back to the problem at hand—reducing violence. The NIC represents a diverse range of fraternities—including historically black, multicultural and emerging organizations—and our member groups stand ready to come to the table as willing partners to improve campus communities.”
Additional Statement from Koepsell, Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors
“Harvard’s long-held intentional decision to not recognize or support fraternities and sororities has been a disservice to students in those groups. Harvard’s proposed solution to control these students through top-down policy rather than mentorship and professional support completely misses the mark on how to improve campus safety and inclusivity.”
Campus Pride Full Statement from Windmeyer, Campus Pride
“Campus Pride works nationally to create a welcoming, safer learning environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on campus. We fully support measures to enforce gender inclusive spaces within single-gendered men’s fraternities and women’s sororities. Our organization has advocated for nearly two decades on LGBT inclusion within fraternities and sororities. Transgender people have the right to join fraternities and sororities in keeping with their gender identity. For some trans and LGB young people, there is great value, affirmation and personal growth from being part of a single-gendered brotherhood or sisterhood. For this reason, we strive to protect student rights to join any organization, including fraternities and sororities.
Harvard’s policy will not fix the serious campus problems of sexual assault or discrimination—much less classism and racism. It will only drive them further underground. Blocking access or restricting rights is never the answer to complex issues. Simple solutions only end up hurting more people in the long term. Instead, we encourage Harvard to reconsider its policy and take a more complex, strategic ownership and responsibility in directly addressing the concerns at heart by all its student populations.”
About the National Panhellenic Conference
NPC is the umbrella organization specifically charged with advocating on behalf of the sorority experience. It is comprised of 26 national and international sororities that are autonomous social organizations. Collectively, NPC sororities are located on more than 670 campuses with approximately 380,000 undergraduate members and more than 4.5 million alumnae.
About the North-American Interfraternity Conference
Founded in 1909, the NIC is the trade association that represents a diverse range of inter/national men’s fraternities, including historically black, multicultural and emerging organizations. NIC’s 69 member organizations boast more than 6,100 chapters located on more than 800 campuses in the United States and Canada, with approximately 375,000 undergraduate members and nearly 4.2 million alumni.
About the National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations
Established in 1998, NALFO promotes the advancement of Latino fraternities and Latina sororities. NALFO shares a commitment to fraternal unity, family values and empowering Latino and underserved communities.
About the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors
Through programs, publications, networking opportunities and other resources, AFA represents the community of campus-based fraternity and sorority advisors and is the leading voice in aligning the fraternity/sorority and higher education experiences.
About Campus Pride
Campus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The organization provides resources and services to thousands of college students and nearly 1,400 campuses annually. Learn more online at CampusPride.org.