Four Orthodox Jewish students sued Yale University on Wednesday after negotiations failed to resolve their claim that loose sexual attitudes in coed dormitories violate their religious beliefs.
The two freshmen and two sophomores, who are among about 60 Orthodox Jewish students at Yale, have demanded the right to live off campus, saying dormitory lifestyle at the Ivy League university violates their faith’s tenets of chastity and modesty.
“Sexual activity involving an unmarried male or female under the age of 18 is common in Yale’s residential college dormitories,” the federal lawsuit states. “If the plaintiffs are required to live in the Yale dormitories, they are likely to witness such activity or to have firsthand evidence of such activity.”
Yale requires all freshmen and sophomores to live on campus in coed dorms, allowing exceptions only in cases in which a student is married or over 21.
The four students claim that policy violates their right to exercise their religion, right of free speech and right of equal protection under the law.
The students’ attorney, Nathan Lewin, said that although Yale is a private institution, the school is governed by federal law because it is supported by various federal and state governmental agencies.
Yale spokesman Thomas Conroy said he cannot comment on the lawsuit because the school’s attorneys have not examined it.