One of the most prestigious Catholic universities in America has been threatened with a law suit for seeking to revert to single-sex dormitories.
John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School, has filed a complaint against the President of Catholic University of America (CUA), Mr John Garvey, alleging that the university's plan violates D.C.’s Human Rights Act.
In June, Mr Garvey was set on eliminating dormitories which housed both sexes for incoming first years this term, in a bid to reduce binge-drinking and casual sex on campus.
Professor Banzhaf, initially said that he intended to sue CUA, but ultimately filed a suit against Mr Garvey.
He said he will file similar complaints against The Most Rev. Allen Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit, as well as The Most Rev. Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., both of whom hold positions at the university.
“I maintain that you can no more have separate dormitories for men and women than you can have [separate] parking lots, laboratories or classes; you can’t have calculus for men, calculus for women,” Banzhaf said.
However, representatives of CUA insist that their plan is entirely legal.
Spokesman Victor Nakas told the university paper, The Tower that CUA was “confident that under local and federal law we have every right to move forward with single-sex dorms”.
He said that DC’s Human Rights Act, “forbids a school from denying or conditioning the use of facilities for a discriminatory reason. The single-sex residence policy that we are phasing in treats both sexes equally, so there is no discrimination.”
He added: ” The transition to single-sex residence halls – a return to a policy that was once common – is rooted mainly in a desire to curb the abuse of alcohol and to stymie development of a “hook-up” culture at the University.
“The University’s decision will contribute to strengthening its educational process and the holistic development of its students. . . .Professor Banzhaf has every right to his opinion and to express it publicly.
“However, as a citizen unaffiliated with Catholic University in any way, he does not have the right to insist that the institution change its well-considered policies”
According to US website, Blog of Legal Times, Professor Banzhaf and representatives of Catholic University took part in a closed-door mediation in the Washington, D.C. Office of Human Rights in August, in an effort to resolve his complaint.
The Office of Human Rights is a city agency that seeks to eradicate discrimination and increase equal opportunity.
Both sides declined to say what transpired at the mediation.
During the mediation, the university’s legal representatives defended the new single-sex dorm policy.