.- The D.C. Office of Human Rights has dismissed a complaint that The Catholic University of America’s single-sex dorm policy constitutes unlawful discrimination under the district’s Human Rights Act.
“We were confident from the beginning that our actions were entirely legal,” said John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America, on Nov. 30.
John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, filed the legal complaint in response to an op-ed that Garvey wrote in the Wall Street Journal in June announcing that the university would be implementing single-sex housing in hopes of fighting binge drinking and hooking up.
On Nov. 29, the D.C. Office of Human Rights issued an order dismissing the complaint, saying that Banzhaf had failed to demonstrate that women under the new policy would lack “equivalent access to educational opportunities” or be subject to “material harm.”
The Office of Human Rights determined that Banzhaf’s arguments were based on “conjecture and speculation” rather than “factual allegations.”
Banzhaf claimed that women are more frightened by walking alone outside of a single-sex residence hall and that women would be disadvantaged in attempts to network in academic disciplines in which they are a minority.
The order of dismissal noted that some of Banzhaf’s examples were ironically based on stereotypes of “women as the weaker sex,” and that there was no indication the university’s new policy was motivated by “a discriminatory animus against women,” as Banzhaf had contended.
Banzhaf’s reasoning, the order noted, could also be used to prohibit single-sex restrooms, locker rooms and sports teams, “which would lead to absurd results.”
Garvey welcomed the decision, saying that he was “thankful for the outpouring of public support” and that he will continue to implement the “principled decision to transition to single-sex residence halls.”
Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, also applauded the ruling, saying that it “dispels an activist attorney’s ridiculous claims.”
He said that the decision will make it easier for other Catholic colleges to institute similar policies to put the “Church’s teaching into practice in a concrete way.”
In October, Banzhaf filed a second legal complaint against The Catholic University of America.
He charged that the university discriminated against Muslim students by displaying Catholic symbolism and imagery. However, Garvey noted that “no Muslim student at Catholic University has registered a complaint with the University about the exercise of their religion on campus.”
The university has not received any official notification from the Office of Human Rights indicating that it will take action on that complaint.