- Death of Stone Foltz Results in Severe Criminal Consequences
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Newsletter > May 2021 > "Public University Attempts to Ban All Fraternities and Sororities"
Public University Attempts to Ban All Fraternities and Sororities
Micah Kamrass, Fraternal Law Partners, MKamrass@manleyburke.com
On May 13, 2021 Bloomsburg University’s President sent a two-sentence email to the student body. The email stated: “Effective immediately, Bloomsburg University is terminating its fraternity and sorority life (FSL) program and severing ties with all national and local FSL organizations currently affiliated with the University. All students are reminded that their conduct remains subject to all applicable University policies.”
The University did not provide any type of justification for this decision, but it was announced shortly after a member of a sorority on campus died, after what a University spokesman described as an incident “not related to Greek life.”
As a public university, Bloomsburg is a state actor for purposes of constitutional law. With this, there are numerous legal issues that arise from Bloomsburg’s actions. The first issue is whether Bloomsburg denied its fraternities and sororities of their 14thamendment due process rights. There is well-established federal law that when a public school considers severe punishment like suspension or expulsion, it must provide the accused with notice and the opportunity to be heard.Certainly, that was not provided to any group that was effectively expelled from campus by the two-sentence email.
There is also a question of whether or not the school’s actions violate the First Amendment freedom of association rights of the students who are members of the fraternities and sororities. Now, it will be interesting to see if any of the groups that were operating in affiliation with Bloomsburg University choose to continue to operate without Bloomsburg University affiliation and without Bloomsburg University resources. As the Supreme Court of the United States has stated, “[p]rivate groups, from fraternities and sororities to social clubs and secret societies, commonly maintain a presence at universities without official school affiliation.”
We will continue to monitor if Bloomsburg’s actions are challenged and if groups continue to operate without Bloomsburg University’s affiliation.
See Anderson, G. The Last Straw.Inside Higher Ed. May 17, 2021.
Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565 (1975)
Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, 561 U.S. 661, 691 (2010).