Feminist students at Yale University are lobbying the administration to force all-male fraternities to open recruitment to women in the name of “equity and inclusion.” However, no corresponding push is being made to integrate sororities.
Founded in 2016, Engender is the brainchild of Yale University feminist students. It is backed by an executive board including Anita Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, and Lisa Wade, an Occidental College professor who argues that masculinity itself is toxic.
Given fraternities “disproportionate control over campus social life,” Engender’s inaugural initiative is to advocate for “gender integration” of fraternities, alleging that these fraternities are responsible for everything from the wage gap to gender stereotypes.
Fraternities “excludes trans and non-binary students, and [they] focus social activities around a heteronormative gender binary that alienates queer students,” according to Engender’s mission statement.
Engender also alleges that gender segregation in fraternities “dehumanizes and objectifies women, producing disproportionately high rates of sexual harassment and assault in all-male spaces.”
Instead of destroying fraternities outright, the feminists behind Engender believe that cultural reform can start from within. By integrating themselves into fraternities, the feminist students believe they can help stomp out the male privilege they embody.
Students who “don’t identify as male” are urged to support Engender by “rushing one of Yale’s all male-fraternities.” Engender did not respond to multiple requests for comment on why they think freedom of association shouldn’t apply to men.
So far, fraternities aren’t buying it. Sigma Nu declined the lobbying efforts, citing freedom of association for all-male students, while other fraternities noted that they are are obligated to exclude women due to the bylaws of their national organization.
The students behind Engender, however, are not deterred. Spurred by Engender’s lobbying efforts, a high-ranking official at Yale University recently emailed all campus fraternities to encourage them to go “gender-neutral.”
“My basic advice is that it does no harm to have your rush events open to all eligible members of the Yale community — regardless of gender,” wrote Burgess Howard, the associate vice president of student life at Yale University.
That email along with Engender’s lobbying efforts has caused at least a few fraternities to put their recruitment events on hold.
Heather Matthews Kirk, the spokesman for the North-American Interfraternity Conference, indicated two weeks ago that some fraternities were delaying rush following reports that female students had plans to attend. But since then, it is unclear what’s happened. As of publication, no fraternities at Yale University appear to have opened their doors to women.
Students at Harvard University have voiced similar concerns regarding fraternities’ unfair influence over campus social life. But instead of banning fraternities and sororities outright, or advocating for gender integration, Harvard has instead vowed to sanction any member of a “single gender organization,” including sorority members.
No corresponding push has been made to integrate sororities at Yale University. Members of Engender did not respond to requests for comment from PJ Media.
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