Trinity College explicitly promises its students freedom of association on campus in its Student Integrity Contract. Yet in October 2012, Trinity’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a new social code effectively banning students from participating in or forming sororities and fraternities.
The new code requires that all “campus organizations” determine their membership on “interest alone” – although academic, professional, athletic and musical organizations are explicitly, and some might say tellingly, exempt. And, in a provision that seems obviously targeted at students’ right to participate in single-sex Greek organizations, non-exempt student organizations cannot affiliate with national organizations that “do not adhere to a coeducational philosophy,” and student groups must reach “minority gender” minimums of 45 percent for participation and 40 percent for leadership by October 2016. Those organizations that do not comply (because, for example, interest alone did not provide a sufficiently equitable gender ratio) will be prohibited.
Trinity’s flagrant ignorance of its contractual and ethical obligations has enraged students and alumni alike, to the point where Trinity College President James Jones announced that he will step down a year early in June 2014. Board of Trustees chair Paul Raether will also step down, but not without earning Trinity College a 2012-2013 Muzzle Award for treading on freedom of private association.