Washington DC Fraternity/Sorority Life and Title IX

The Title IX statute does not normally apply to the membership practices of social fraternities and sororities on college and university campuses in Washington DC. However, Title IX does govern all the activities and programs which these social fraternities and sororities put on, assuming the fraternity or sorority receives financial assistance from the United States government.

If you are a member of a fraternity or sorority who has incurred Title IX charges based on alleged sexual harassment, assault, or violence, you could be facing the possibility of serious penalties at the school level. Moreover, if the alleged victim decides to bring criminal charges against you, a conviction could lead to steep fines and potentially even jail time. A student defense lawyer could explain to you the relationship between Washington DC fraternity/sorority life and Title IX, as well as their applicability to your case.

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal statute which Congress put in place to ensure that no person would be excluded from participating in any educational program or activity on the basis of sex or gender. Over the years, courts have expanded the law to require colleges and universities to investigate all reports and incidents of sexual assault, violence, and harassment that occur on campus. Schools must also have protocols in place to use when investigating complaints of sexual assault, violence, and harassment, and they must follow these protocols in every case.

Applicability of Title IX to University Fraternities and Sororities

Issues involving fraternity/sorority life and Title IX often arise at Washington DC colleges and universities. Technically, though, the requirements of Title IX are not applicable to the membership requirements and practices of both fraternities and sororities.

These organizations, by their very nature, discriminate based upon gender, since fraternities are composed of all men and sororities are composed of all women. To remain exempt from Title IX regulations, the following must hold true:

  • The active membership of the fraternity or sorority must primarily consist of individuals who currently attend the college or university that sponsors them
  • The fraternity or sorority is tax-exempt pursuant to the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code

If a fraternity or sorority receives federal funding, then all the other activities and programs of the social fraternity or sorority must remain in compliance with Title IX. Moreover, the university could investigate a student member of a fraternity or sorority who allegedly commits an act of sexual assault or violence.

Washington DC fraternity/sorority life and Title IX also come up in the context of professional, service, and honorary—as opposed to social—fraternities and sororities. Professional fraternities and sororities are typically limited to a particular academic discipline, field of study, or achievement level. Accordingly, these organizations are always subject to Title IX, even when it comes to their membership practices.

Learn More About DC Fraternity/Sorority Life’s Relationship to Title IX

Although fraternities and sororities are not usually required to follow Title IX guidelines, members of these organizations are not exempt from Title IX investigations at the school level. If you or someone you love is facing a Title IX charge, a student defense lawyer could answer all your questions about Washington DC fraternity/sorority life and Title IX and help you develop a plan of action to protect your best interests.