Harvard’s new effort to punish students who belong to single-sex clubs raises interesting questions.
First, will public universities follow? No. Public universities are clearly limited by the First Amendment in how they treat students. While there are serious arguments that what Harvard did is illegal, the law probably favors Harvard’s act because Harvard is a private organization.
Second, why is Harvard doing this? Harvard has few fraternities but an old tradition of single sex “finals clubs”. These clubs have been under criticism for decades for hosting parties where women are treated badly. In recent years, the US Department of Education has criticized many US colleges for maintaining hostile environments for women because of off-campus parties, mostly in fraternities.
Third, will we see other private colleges making similar choices? Yes. Harvard’s traditional leadership role will undoubtedly result in many other colleges taking similar steps.
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