Sorority Houses: An Unattainable Dream
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Sorority Houses: An Unattainable Dream

The suite life?

Sorority Houses: An Unattainable Dream

When visiting Miami University, prospective female students are often caught off guard by the absence of sorority houses. Many female sorority members feel as though they are missing out on the full Greek experience. This controversial topic has sorority girls asking why fraternity men get the luxury of having their very own house, while women are stuck in on-campus dorms?

Currently, each sophomore pledge class lives in one of four sorority dorms in a designated corridor. There are typically four sororities per dorm. The only amenity that is special to each sorority is a “sorority suite.” These suites are made up of a decent size room with a set-up similar to that of a living room. There is also a small kitchen. These rooms are locked; only the active members have access to the entry code. Each sorority uses their suite for their weekly chapter meetings.

“Because we don’t have sorority houses here at Miami, I do feel that we are missing out on the experience of living with all your sisters. A lot of girls in Richard Hall are split up between floors, and some girls in other sororities are split between different dorms. Living in a house would provide everyone to live with all of their best friends under the same roof,” explains sophomore Delta Gamma Maura Colwell.

There are three main rumors as to why sororities have to live on campus opposed to off-campus houses like their Greek male counterparts.

The most popular rumor that circulates the campus is that the lack of sorority housing is due to a brothel law. This means that a certain number of women are unable to live together in a single house. Many women feel as though this law is extremely outdated, seeing as women and men are treated equally on campus aside from this.

A second rumor is that in the 1900s, a woman donated a sum of money to Miami to build these dorms with the condition that there wouldn’t be sorority houses built for the next 50 years.

The final rumor is a simple concept regarding equality that argues why it is fair to refuse sorority houses from existing in Oxford. That is, each sorority's members have to pay a different amount of money annually for dues and each sorority contains a different amount of members; therefore, the houses would be of different size and quality. Having every female Greek member in the same size building of the same quality eliminates any unfairness.

Although there isn’t one rumor that is favored among student body, the University Archives examines the idea that back in the early days of sororities the women opted against off-campus houses and were in favor towards having suites in the on-campus residence halls.

Back in the day, women who were under the age of 21 were not able to live off-campus. This all changed in 1996 when the Board of Trustees finally allowed them to move off campus with parent consent.

There really are numerous benefits to not having off-campus sorority houses. First, it is quite the financial investment to maintain. Not having to deal with the competitive and expensive real estate market in Oxford is a blessing in itself.

The sorority suites at Miami are about $4,000 to $5,000 per semester.

To give some comparison, an Indiana University student gave her opinion on the housing issue. “You get closer to girls of all ages. We do everything together. It takes the party aspect out and you get to know everyone on such a deeper level as you eat every meal together, sleep together and get ready for the day together. Also, it bonds you more as a house because it is just girls in your sorority who live there,” said Merrit Whaley, a sophomore Alpha Phi at Indiana University.

According to members of Miami’s Panhellenic Council there are not any restrictions against having sorority houses in Oxford. Members of the council deny the brothel law rumor, as well as the donation rumor. Although it could very well be that at one point in Miami’s history they were true.

Currently, the truth as to why Oxford does not provide sorority houses for its Greek women is because of mainly space constraints and also to create an element of fairness among all sorority women.

“As a Panhellenic association, it would be unfair to allow some sororities to build houses and others to not have any, so we maintain the status quo that there will not be any houses on campus,” said Miami’s Panhellenic Vice President of New Member Education, Amy Schwendeman.

The issue of second year housing remains a controversial topic for women in the Greek community. While many feel at a disadvantage in regards to not residing in the traditional sorority house as their peers at other universities experience, others thoroughly enjoy their time living in the suites and appreciate the time getting to know girls from the other chapters living in the building with them.

“The traditional Miami experience is that sorority women live together as sophomores in a corridor with the women who are also in their pledge class. For many sororities, these corridors are considered to be equivalent to a "house," especially when including their suite which is located in one of the Central Quad dorms,” said Panhellenic President Caitlin Duckwork.

Greek women often express this feeling of inequality due to the fact that each fraternity chapter is able to live in a single house containing all sophomore chapter members. In actuality, not every active fraternity has a house; some actually reside in dorms, as well. Also, many of the buildings were not initially created to be “frat houses.” Several of the fraternity houses are spread across campus, therefore making it more difficult for them to bond with other chapters.

The Panhellenic Council at Miami will continue to support the existence of sorority residence halls and suites and believes that it does not strip sorority women of the opportunity to have a wholesome sorority experience.

Duckwork expressed her approval of the residence halls and the elements of fairness it creates for the sorority women, because of this she believes that, “a community is fostered and our chapters are equitable.” Miami's greek sorority women will continue to follow the sorority suite alternative regardless of the rumors and enjoy all that the buildings provide.

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