Five Yale students are preparing to file a lawsuit charging that Yale's co-ed rooming policy prevents them from following the tenets of their beliefs as Orthodox Jews-that unmarried men and women should live separately.
Nathan Lewin, counsel for the five students, said the group will likely file suit against the university. Lewin would not comment on what basis the suit would be filed, but did confirm that the students' first amendment right to religious freedom would be a component.
"We have advised Yale that we would be filing suit unless there's a satisfactory policy," Lewin said.
The five students-first-years Rachel Wolgelernter, Batsheva Greer and Elisha Dov Hack and sophomores Lisa Friedman and Jeremy Hershman-are fighting a residential requirement for first-years that has been in place for years.
In an the op-ed piece, "College Life vs. My Moral Code" that appeared in The New York Times Monday, Hack expressed disillusionment with a rooming system that allowed her brother, also an Orthodox Jew, to live at home in New Haven during all four years at the college.
The policy has since changed and mandates that she must live on campus not only as a first-year, but also as a sophomore.
Although the floors in some dorms at the college are single-sex, Hack said co-ed bathrooms and hallways send a "moral message" that runs counter to the religious tenets of Orthodox Judaism.
Common spaces within the dorms are co-ed and several bathrooms in each dorm are designated as co-ed facilities.
"We cannot, in good conscience, live in a place where women are permitted in men's rooms, and where visiting men can traipse through the common halls on the women's floors-in various stages of undress-in the middle of the night," Hack wrote in the op-ed.
According to Lewin, all five students were aware of campus policy before they began classes at the college.
Yesterday, Dean of Yale College Richard H. Brodhead replied to Hack's piece with a Times op-ed of his own: "Dormitory Life is Essential to a Yale Education."
"Their daily interactions becomes a continual scene of teaching and learn-
Brodhead was not available for comment.
Lewin-who has argued several religious freedom cases before the Supreme Court-said the students' requests to live off-campus were denied by campus officials outright.
Lewin said this was due to an "almost inflexible residency requirement" mandating that all single students under age 21 live on campus.