Single-Sex Organizations Have Value
The validity and popularity of single-sex organizations among Harvard students was clearly demonstrated by rising membership levels for the years immediately prior to Harvard’s imposition of sanctions.
At their core, fraternities are about brotherhood, personal development and providing a community of support.
JUDSON HORRASNIC President & CEO
1. A mixture of single-sex and coed social institutions is the norm, not the exception, on most college campuses and having such choice directly supports Harvard’s stated mission of preparing its students to be leaders in today’s society.
2.Single-sex organizations eliminate many of the superficial elements present in undergraduate social activity and provide support that allows members to appreciate their peers.
3.Thriving single-sex organizations within an otherwise coeducational social environment provide choice for how students may decide to spend their available time outside of their commitments to classes, athletics and dorm life.
4.Research suggests that single-sex settings help women grow in unique ways. For example, graduates of women’s colleges are more than twice as likely than graduates of co-ed colleges to enter medical school or obtain a natural science or other doctoral degree.
5.Studies show women’s only educational environments foster greater self-esteem and personal control, effects that persist after graduation.
6.Research shows the student stress stems from a sense of loneliness. Sororities, fraternities and final clubs provide students with a sense of community. They provide connection and friendship when students are often far from home and familiarity—a strong support system that can offer help and guidance when under stress.
In justifying its policy, Harvard has compared itself to small, liberal arts colleges, while ignoring the fact that Harvard’s true peer institutions like Stanford, Yale and Princeton, continue to allow single gender social organizations. Stanford University has 30 single-sex fraternities and sororities, nine of which are housed on campus. In statements to the media, Yale administrators have explicitly disavowed an interest in taking Harvard’s approach to single-gender organizations.
While the obstacles facing women today may not be as in-your-face as those experienced when our member organizations were first founded, there remains a powerful need for women’s spaces on our campuses and women deserve the right to join organizations that provide them.