Stand up to things besides Harvard


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Blake Blevins

Many students, specifically Greek, have taken to social media to #StandUpToHarvard through changing their profile picture to include a frame with the slogan, enumerating the benefits of Greek life or sharing a petition.

Harvard University is facing two lawsuits on behalf of several national fraternities and sororities. The issue in question is whether the influential university’s policy discouraging student membership of single-sex organizations (such as Greek life and even musical groups) is legal.

Harvard’s policy bars any students participating in an “unrecognized single-gender social organization” from holding leadership positions in recognized student organizations and athletic teams. Students violating this policy will also not be eligible for school fellowship endorsements.

The federal lawsuit claims the policy violates Title IX. The state lawsuit accuses Harvard of violating students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The quick response and rapid internet mobilization of students is indicative of what happens when you step on the toes of an industry with influence over nine million members— a disproportionate amount being Fortune 500 CEOs and members of Congress.

The backlash arising from Harvard’s second big scandal this year is unique because of the demographic of students responding. There has always been a clear distinction between levels of activism and political involvement in colleges like UK and the Ivy League, but the pervasive arm of international Greek life organizations has rallied students across the country.

While Harvard’s actions may be an overreach, the aggressive campaign by fraternities and sororities to have their members stand up to the university has created a surge in political speech by some who are often silent on other issues, and this has highlighted a hypocrisy.

Some students seem willing to speak up when the institution they have chosen to devote themselves to is threatened and wills them to defend it but remain silent while witnessing violations of human rights far more damaging than threats to their freedom to be a member of a group.

Students who use their voice on behalf of those in need can influence the course of events and change lives in much the same way they can influence the way Harvard’s actions are addressed.

Harvard’s attempt to blacklist students for their off-campus associations is an issue worthy of students’ attention. All students have an ability and obligation to stand up for their rights and what they believe in. It is hoped that these students, who may be making their first ever political statement by #StandingUpToHarvard, will continue to use their voice to stand up for the rights of themselves and others.