In 2016 Harvard University instituted a sanctions policy that punishes students who join off-campus single-sex organizations. This policy prevents students from being able to hold leadership roles in any Harvard organizations or sports teams and makes them ineligible for any post-graduate fellowships and scholarships affiliated with Harvard University.
Before this sanctions policy was put in place, one in FOUR undergraduates belonged to a single-sex organization. These include sororities, fraternities, and other clubs with all-men or all-women members.
For male and female students alike, this policy has devastated the Harvard undergraduate student body, and stripped away their opportunities for social involvement. Almost all Greek organizations have shut down, and once-proud clubs have had to renounce their status as women's or men's social organizations.
Earlier this month, on December 3rd, a handful of sororities, fraternities, and students filed federal and state lawsuits in opposition of this policy on the grounds that the implemented sanctions are in violation of their rights as students guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and Title IX that protect them from sex discrimination.
The lawsuits have garnered the support of nearly 100 single-sex organizations.
Now, I am all for equality and inclusion, but Greek life is an important aspect of who I am, and if my university decided to punish me on the basis of being a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha, I'd be both heartbroken and furious.
Joining a sorority isn't for everybody, and I sure didn't think it was for me. But after being in college for two months and making zero friends, I decided that a sorority couldn't be worse than sitting in my dorm all alone. What I found was not only better but life-changing. I not only met women my age, but I connected with them. They've made my college experience one I could have only dreamed of.
When I thought that the people I met would be the best part of Greek life, the universe proved me wrong, again. I have had some of the most amazing career and volunteer opportunities through my sorority. I've gotten to reach people I never would have otherwise and help them in the most satisfying ways.
I've gained more leadership experience and more chances to network than I've ever gotten before in high school or college. I finally got to be part of an atmosphere that not only values but implements my opinions. I get to lead groups of women and learn leadership techniques that will assist me for the rest of my life.
The door of opportunities opened so much wider for me just by saying yes to a sorority. The amount of meaningful friendships in my life has grown exponentially, all because I said yes to a sorority. I feel safe and accepted and finally comfortable in college, all because I said yes to a sorority.
I've gained a second family full of women who are equally as crazy as I am, but in the best ways, all because I was allowed the opportunity to join a single-sex organization.
I'm not saying that co-ed organizations are bad or invaluable because I'm a member of those too. But to take away an opportunity for a man or woman to find a safe place, an organization they can thrive in, or a group of people they can escape to, goes against the entire outlook that colleges and universities are supposed to promote and encourage.
To the students of Harvard, I appreciate you for standing up to discriminatory policies like this one, and I stand with you.