DC human-rights office hears complaint against Catholic U. for single-sex dorms
September 16, 2011
Lawyers for the Catholic University of America (CUA) appeared on September 15 before the Office of Human Rights in Washington, DC, at a hearing on a charge that the school is engaging in illegal discrimination by offering only single-sex dormitories for undergraduates.
CUA President John Garvey announced in June that the school would no longer offer coed dormitory housing. Garvey said that evidence showed a higher rate of irresponsible conduct—notably including binge drinking—in coed dormitories. "I would have thought that young women would have a civilizing influence on young men," Garvey said in explaining the decision. "Yet the causal arrow seems to run the other way.”
The move drew a sex-discrimination complaint from John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University who has brought literally hundreds of discrimination complaints.
In an editorial the Washington Examiner said that the Banzhaf complaint was an “outrageous and unwarranted interference with the internal affairs of a private university.” CUA defenders have pointed out that the school’s decision is not motivated by a desire to discriminate against any group of students, and the Examiner noted that even Gustavo Velasquez, the director of the Office of Human Rights, questioned whether undergraduate students could be said to have a legal “right” to coeducational dormitory housing.
Banzhaf, however, has vowed to pursue his complaint—and threatened to file suit against Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington as well. He offered the CUA undergraduate newspaper, The Tower, a remarkable perspective on single-sex living arrangements: “It’s the same as saying that since Muslims and Jews don’t get along we should force them to live apart.”
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