Antidiscrimination Rules Imposed on University Groups:

My sense is that many campus antidiscrimination rules (1) were originally aimed at discrimination by social organizations such as fraternities, sororities, and eating clubs, and that (2) their drafters didn't think much about how the rules might burden ideological groups' ability to disseminate their ideologies (for instance, if a "no religious discrimination by student groups" rule interferes with a religious group's ability to maintain its identity as a religious group). But I haven't been able to find much support for this assumption, which makes me wonder whether it's accurate.

Does anyone have any pointers to places that might either support or contradict my assumption? The more detail, of course, the better. If you'd be so kind, please limit comments to information about this factual issue, and not a discussion about whether such rules are a good idea. Thanks!

If memory serves (and given my level of alcohol consumption in college, it may not), it's not so much that drafters of these rules didn't think about the consequences to ideological groups as it is that when they were forming these rules they didn't think about ideology at all. More to the point, these rules were generally aimed at white males, whole white males, and nothing but white males. (I believe Jews were given the privilege of being considered white.)

I was at Columbia in the mid-80s, which is when political correctness began to take hold. The prevailing notion at the time was that, for example, the Black Students Organization would not be considered discriminatory, while a White Students Organization, if such a thing existed, would. Similarly, fraternities were considered sexist, while sororities were not.

I don't think ideology played any role in these rules, because there wasn't much diversity of ideology at Columbia, unless you consider liberal, leftist, and socialist organizations to be representative of diversity. I'm not looking to grind any axes: it's just the way it was. The only ideology that mattered was whether you were a victim of the system (blacks, women, gays and lesbians, Palestinians, etc.) or part of the system (white males, particularly frat boys or jocks). It certainly never would've entered the drafters' minds that someone could consider using antidiscrimination rules against sororities, or religious organizations, etc. Besides, it was just a matter of time before the American worker woke up and overthrew the fascist Reagan, at which point a socialist utopia would be established in which none of this would ever be an issue again.

Anyway, that's my memory, such as it is. Why must you make me relive those dark days??
3.16.2006 8:17pm
At my graduate school, Georgia Tech, the official policy was that to be a "recognized" student organization, you cannot discriminate, period. The policy is here. Some of my friends were in the student senate (which had to approve all new organizations), and they regularly had debates over new Christian groups which wanted to restrict their membership to people with "Christian lifestyles" i.e. excluding gays. Most established Christian groups had learned to get along with the rules -- in practice, few out gay students join openly evangelical groups known for haranguing gays.
3.16.2006 8:34pm
Sigh. Eugene, it's all Calvinball.
3.16.2006 10:40pm
JoshL (mail):
At Penn, groups that are technically discriminatory are allowed (religious ones, in particular, though none actually restricts their membership). They can also be recognised by the Student Activities Council. But they can't be funded by the University (this includes Hillel, Newmann Center, etc).
3.16.2006 10:48pm
Cyg (mail):
Justice O'Connor, concurring in Roberts v U.S. Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 638 (1984), said "this Court's case law recognizes radically different constitutional protections for expressive and nonexpressive associations." Daniel L. Schwartz in Discrimination on Campus: A Critical Examination of Single-Sex College Social Organizations, 75 Cal. L. Rev. 2117 (1987) argues that college social organizations are not associations that exist for expressive purposes. Though they occasionally express opinions as an organization, they are not "expressive associations" in the sense that ideological or religious groups are. If this distinction is valid, Prof. Volokh's assertion that rules aimed at fraternities were not anticipated to have any effect on expressive associations is very likely correct.
3.17.2006 3:43am
laurence rothenberg (mail):
See the case of Tufts' campus Christian organization denied school funding b/c it would not allow a lesbian to be a member. after public outcry, the university reversed itself.
3.17.2006 8:15am