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College Park Fraternity/Sorority Life and Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and related activities. Interpretations of Title IX requirements have changed over the years. These interpretations, combined with questions regarding the reach of Title IX, can make it unclear precisely how Title IX affects fraternities and sororities in College Park.

The law contains exemptions and exceptions, some of which are aimed specifically at sororities and fraternities. The interplay between College Park fraternity/sorority life and Title IX affects membership practices as well as aspects of social life. For more information, contact a skilled student defense attorney.

Membership Practices

While many students in College Park have heard that fraternities and sororities are exempt from Title IX requirements, this is only true with respect to the membership practices and not to other programs and activities. Moreover, the exemption only applies to social sororities and fraternities and not to honorary, professional, or service fraternities and sororities.

Finally, to be exempt and therefore have the ability to exclude potential members on the basis of sex, a fraternity or sorority must be considered tax exempt under IRS regulations, and the active members must be mostly students attending a university or other institute of higher education.

The relationship between College Park fraternity/sorority life and Title IX depends on the type of fraternity or sorority at issue. To determine whether a sorority or fraternity is a social organization or one that should be considered professional, service, or honorary in nature, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights considers three main questions. The first question is whether membership in the organization is limited to those interested in a particular academic field or profession. Second, the Office considers whether the organization only offers membership to those with a high level of achievement in academics or other endeavors.

The final question is whether members of the fraternity or sorority are allowed to be members of other fraternities or sororities at the same educational level. If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” the Office considers that to be evidence that the fraternity or sorority is not a social fraternity entitled to exemption from the Title IX discrimination prohibitions.

Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence in College Park

The Title IX issues that concern most officials in College Park these days do not involve membership discrimination but rather sexual conduct. Title IX anti-discrimination provisions have been interpreted to prohibit sexual harassment, which includes forms of sexual violence. All institutes of higher education face pressure to establish procedures to address allegations of sexual abuse in a manner that will provide safety to all students.

Fraternities and sororities are intimately connected with colleges yet operate under their own charters. So, in some places, schools run into difficulties enforcing their Title IX procedures when sorority or fraternity members are involved.

The relationship between College Park fraternity/sorority life and Title IX is further confused by the internal justice systems established by the Greek organizations to govern the conduct of their members. As the College Park campus newspaper reported, some students take their Title IX violation allegations directly to the fraternities and sororities for adjudication.

Though the university would prefer for students to seek resolution through official channels, the separate governance of fraternities and sororities prevents the school from taking action to stop the organizations from holding their own internal hearings.