Most people would probably assume that college students are guaranteed the right to participate in social organizations as they see fit. After all, as American citizens, don’t we all possess the fundamental right to associate freely?


Then why did Members of Congress just introduce a new bill, the College Freedom of Association Act, validating freedom of association protections for students on college campuses? Because this right is currently under attack at Harvard University and at other colleges and universities in the U.S. As IWF’s Charlotte Hays explains:


Of course, we shouldn’t need a bill in Congress to protect peaceable association on college campuses. Assembling for social or intellectual purposes is a big part of the college experience. So why do we even need this bill?


Well, we need it because a number of colleges and universities—most notably including Harvard—are impeding free association as it relates to single-sex clubs and activities.


We should all be sorry that a bill such as the College Freedom of Association is necessary–but glad legislators are addressing sanctions on free association on campus.


Harvard’s new policy, implemented in 2017, penalizes students who join single-sex organizations, like sororities and fratenities, by making those who join ineligible for campus leadership positions as well as for certain fellowships or scholarships.


Socializing and intellectualizing with fellow classmates can make one’s time in college more fulfilling, and the networking opportunities can even lay the groundwork for future success. Policies like this can particularly harm female students. Sororities, for example, provide young women with many leadership, philanthropic, and networking opportunities that they might not otherwise have. 


The Collegiate Freedom of Association Act would preserve these opportunities and ensure that women, and all students, are able to associate freely during their time in college. That’s why IWV recently sent a letter to Congress in support of the Collegiate Freedom of Association Act.


We hope you will click on the graphic below to read the letter and share with your friends how the Collegiate Freedom of Association Act would affirm college students’ rights to socialize and associate as they wish.