Op-Ed, Opinion

OP-ED: The missing sorority house

Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author.

Before I came to college, I knew I wanted to join a sorority. I had heard stories from friends and family members about their amazing experiences joining different chapters at all universities all over the country. When I toured Boston University, the first question that popped into my head for my tour guide was, “Where do the sorority women live? Are there houses?”  My guide responded that the lack of sorority houses on campus could be an outcome of Massachusetts’ law that it is illegal for more than four unrelated females to live together, since the situation is considered a brothel.

However, after doing more research myself — a few Google clicks actually — I found that this Massachusetts brothel law does NOT exist! According to Snopes, a “myth-busting” website, this “law” came to be as a way of explaining the lack of sorority houses. Boston Real Estate News states, “What Boston does have on the books is a limit on how many people can live in a house.” In addition, the City of Boston listed on their website that any more than four unrelated students, of any sex, sharing an apartment violates the zoning code.

So maybe the brothel myth was shut down, but is the law in place any more reasonable? Although a number of sororities and fraternities have unofficial houses at off-campus locations, they are often funded by membership pledges and not funded by the university. If Boston University recognized Greek life on campus and provided funding we would be able to have official houses to do more things together as an organization. There are many other perks such as “house moms” that cook and clean as a part of dues, which gives members a sense of home.

With all the universities in the city of Boston, there is an abundance of sorority sisters lacking proper housing. We must come together and influence our state legislators to abolish the housing rules in place. When prospective students visit these campuses and ask the same question I did on my first tour, they should be able to feel the excitement as the tour guide mentions both fraternity AND sorority houses located off campus they have the chance to live in.

Gabrielle Schwab, [email protected]

One Comment

  1. According to BU Admissions, only 13% of students are active in Greek Life. You’d be talking about subsidizing student groups that barely an eighth of students are members of, on a very large scale. It would also be attempting to purchase more real estate in Boston, the site of some of the most expensive real estate in the country. Furthermore, contributing in this way to Greek Life would be a not-so-subtle way to promote it – Greek Life has had a very lackluster reputation on campus in the past few years (see the issues with Kappa Sigma, Sigma Alpha Mu, Zeta Beta Tau, and Delta Tau Delta to name just a few).

    As far as off-campus housing (which BU has no control over), the city of Boston prohibits more than 4 students from living in the same apartment. Presumably, the “unofficial” fraternity houses would be breaking this ordinance if there were more than four living there. There’s nothing stopping four female students from renting a house in Allston in the same way that fraternities do and calling it a sorority house. The housing ordinance was put in place to prevent situations like the death of Binland Lee, though one could argue that we should actually be strengthening, not abolishing, student housing rules as a result of this.