August 13, 2019

Statement: Independent Women’s Forum on Ruling in Harvard Case
Judge Allows Federal Sex Discrimination Case Against Harvard To Proceed — Without Female Plaintiffs

Washington, DC — In response to the ruling in federal court by Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton that the lawsuit filed by sororities and fraternities against Harvard University’s policy on single-sex clubs may proceed, Erin Hawley, Senior Counsel for Independent Women’s Forum’s (IWF) Center for Law and Liberty issued the following statement:

“Independent Women’s Forum agrees with Judge Gorton that the court cannot determine whether Harvard committed intentional discrimination in violation of Title IX until the record is fully developed in discovery. IWF finds it ironic, however, that two women’s sororities–the groups most severely harmed by Harvard’s policy–were dismissed from the lawsuit because they no longer have active Harvard chapters and, thus, lack standing. The reason that these sororities no longer have active chapters, of course, is because of Harvard’s policy.” 

In 2016, Harvard announced that, beginning with the Class of 2021 (the freshman class of 2017), students who join a single-sex club will be barred from campus leadership positions (such as captain of a varsity athletic team) and will not receive a college endorsement for fellowships or scholarships (such as the Rhodes). Several sororities and fraternities, as well as individual students, filed lawsuits in federal and state court last year to bar Harvard from enforcing the sanctions policy. The lawsuits argue that the policy violates Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and basic constitutional right to freedom of association. 

IWF’s 501(c)4 sister organization, Independent Women’s Voice, opposes Harvard’s policy and supports the Collegiate Freedom of Association Act (H.R. 3128), which would create a statutory right to freedom of association for students on college campuses. The Collegiate Freedom of Association Act, introduced by Representative Ruben Gallego (D) and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of members in the House of Representatives, would protect women at Harvard by eliminating these unfair sanctions and would rightly defend all students’ right to associate freely. 


Independent Women's Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.