Phi Delta Theta International Fraternity was founded in 1848 on the principles of friendship, sound learning, and rectitude. Our leadership society was able to form and flourish over the past 170 years through the protections of freedom of association and speech that are provided in the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States. We are deeply troubled by the dangerous actions taken by Harvard University to place sanctions on students who join off-campus, single-sex social organizations.
Last year, Harvard instituted a policy that placed sanctions on students who chose to join unrecognized, single-sex organizations. These punitive sanctions denied opportunities for students to hold leadership roles in Harvard’s organizations and athletic teams as well as denying these students the opportunity to obtain post-graduate fellowships and scholarships influenced or controlled by Harvard. Before Harvard announced these sanctions, one in four undergraduates belonged to sororities, fraternities or all-women’s or all-men’s final clubs – opportunities protected by Title IX and the First Amendment. Starting this fall, members of those organizations are, in a word, blacklisted. This decision was made unilaterally and rubber-stamped by a self-selected corporation board behind closed doors, ignoring protests from students, faculty, parents, and organizations.
This is a dangerous precedent by Harvard, and it is interfering with students’ rights protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution of the United States and Title IX. Harvard, in a blatant act of intolerance, is using draconian tactics to bully and force compliance with Harvard’s ideology of conformity at the expense of individual and group rights.
Harvard has no right to deny students of the basic universal American and Canadian right to freedom of association, especially when Harvard began as a publically funded institution. Harvard has been the recipient of billions of dollars in tax-deductible gifts and untaxed endowment income, and it continues to receive more than half-a-billion dollars in annual federal research funding, in addition to accepting federal and state financial aid for its students.
Even though Phi Delta Theta does not have a chapter at Harvard, we are standing up to Harvard through our support of a group of sororities, fraternities, and students who filed a pair of lawsuits challenging Harvard’s reckless sanctions policy that punishes students who join off-campus, single-sex organizations. We are also joining the “Stand Up to Harvard” movement as we hope it will bring to light the intolerant and ill-conceived actions of Harvard as it attempts to coerce students to their ideology of conformity while depriving women and men of much needed opportunities for mutual support and leadership development.
Please join us in creating awareness around this important issue by commenting and sharing our social media posts and adding your voice to support the students at Harvard by visiting standuptoharvard.org.
We cannot sit back idly when an institution attempts to threaten the basic rights of students. If not confronted, this intolerance and disregard for basic freedoms enjoyed by Americans and Canadians could be followed by others, which would be a threat to Phi Delta Theta and our interfraternal brothers and sisters.
Yours in the Bond,
Dr. Chris W. Brussalis
President of the General Council