By Jesse Stilwell, September 19 2017 —
Harvard University is considering banning single-gender clubs, specifically fraternities and sororities. The University of Calgary should too.
According to the Students’ Union’s Student Organization Registration policy, a club cannot restrict membership based on the personal identification categories protected under the Canadian Human Rights Act. This includes gender. Yet fraternities and sororities are on display all week at Clubs Week, specifically recruiting either men or women.
This could exclude anyone who does not identify within the traditional gender binary. An organization should never prevent or deter an individual from engaging with them because of their gender. This practice is unacceptable at an institution like the U of C, where individuals are free to embrace their gender identity. The SU should not be associated with these organizations.
Not only do these clubs operate on outdated gender stereotypes, they can also promote a notorious binge drinking culture. The Greek clubs at Harvard also have histories of sexual assault. These are just a few of the reasons Harvard doesn’t want its students to be associated with these clubs. Healthy students don’t get dangerously drunk at frat parties on weekends. Universities shouldn’t allow organizations who promote this culture to be a part of campus life.
These organizations are free to exist off campus, where they can boast their gender-stereotyped history all they want. Allowing them to campaign for recruitment and exclude segments of the student population contradicts what the university and the SU value. The SU cannot tell students that they are welcome in all their sanctioned clubs except Greek societies and expect anyone to take them seriously. And since universities are also subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as public institutions, they should not formally recognize student organizations that run against the values within the Charter.
Some students have great experiences in Greek societies, so it’s unfair of them to deny non-binary students the same opportunity. The SU should no longer tolerate this. Greek societies must either change a tradition that’s hundreds of years old or be removed from our campus.