Association Rights, Institutional Non-discrimination Policies, and Student Groups

Is it permissible for a fraternity to take action against a member accused of violating school policy? What implications does Title IX have in such cases? How would the situation differ if applied to a sports team or student government association (SGA) instead of a fraternity? Should you adopt an “all-comers” policy, or is it acceptable for a student organization to set belief or practice standards as membership criteria? Should those standards apply to members or just the organization’s leadership?

Furthermore, can a school deny recognition to student groups that fail to adhere to non-discrimination policies? Could over-inclusive requirements destroy the identities of affinity-based groups?

This workshop will focus on the intricate balance of student organizations’ interests at public and private institutions. It will analyze the various rights that students are granted under the First Amendment while exploring institutional efforts to prevent discrimination and comply with federal and state laws.

Learning Outcomes

After attending this workshop, attendees will be able to:

  • Understand various protections the First Amendment offers as applied to student organizations.
  • Identify different obligations of recognized private organizations (like fraternities and sororities) contrasted with school-sponsored groups (like student government and clubs).
  • Recognize potential areas of conflict between institutional policies and student organization bylaws.
  • Implement best practices to mitigate risks related to associational rights and non-discrimination policies and practices.
  • Understand how Title IX may impact such clubs and organizations.

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