Historical roots and set standards

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Delta Delta Delta sorority house. [Photo by Jullia Brennan ‘17]

Jaclyn Moses

Differences in sorority and fraternity policies set social scene on campus

Seeking out parties at fraternity houses on a typical Friday or Saturday night is the norm at most colleges with Greek life. Flyers around campus and social media event pages advertise for parties at fraternity houses, many of which are cosponsored by sororities.

These parties are usually co-hosted by sororities, raising the question of why many people on campus have never even stepped foot in a sorority house. The reasoning is not because Lafayette will not allow it, nor is it necessarily because sororities personally do not wish to open their doors to the public. The regulations are rooted on a national level.

All six of the sororities, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Phi, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Gamma, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Pi Beta Phi, on Lafayette’s campus are part of the National Panhellenic Conference, and the three fraternities, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Delta Upsilon, Phi Kappa Psi, are part of the North-American Interfraternity Council. Although each individual chapter has its own national regulations, those of the NPC and NIC are universal to all chapters within the conference.

According to the NPC, “alcohol and male visitation are not permitted in women’s residences.” The reasoning behind these regulations is deeply rooted in the history of sororities as single-sex organizations that provide safe environments for its members. Opening the doors of sorority houses to the public jeopardizes these promises.

While the NIC does have a similar list of guidelines and standards that regulate the fraternities’ values and abilities, there are no policies that prevent fraternities from hosting parties or having females in their houses.

“I believe that it should be okay for sororities to have social events in their houses,” Desmond Austin-Miller ‘17 said, a member of a Phi Kappa Psi. “It’s also a risk issue if it’s always just guys [hosting] all the time.”

The NPC has considered this “risk” as a reason why sororities cannot host social events, have alcohol or have males in their houses. The insurance companies of sororities have priced their insurance knowing that alcohol will not be served in the houses. If these policies changed, the insurance companies “would not support the effort to modify or change the stance that has been in place and worked for 50+ years,” according to the NPC.

While many have challenged this discrepancy, these standards are rooted in tradition, with no intentions of changing anytime soon. Although they bring to light many double standards, sorority members do not necessarily feel that the regulations are unfair.

“I would not want a party in my house,” said Lila Silver ‘17, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. “I would not want my space disturbed by reckless individuals.”

Corinna Anderson ‘17, a member of Pi Beta Phi, agrees in that “on our campus, the girls’ houses are very different than the boys’ houses, and I just don’t see our houses being conducive to having a party.”

In addition, the regulations do not prevent sororities from hosting social events in general, just in their own houses. The policy allows social events “in third-party vendor locations with licensed bartenders and security precautions out into place,” according to the NPC.

These regulations can be seen as a gender inequality between fraternities and sororities, but fraternities are affected just as greatly by these regulations.

“It [the regulations] definitely goes both ways,” Austin-Miller said. “It’s bad for everyone when both sides can’t have parties in their houses, because it puts a lot more pressure on the guys.”

With the responsibilities of these events, set up, clean up, music and expenses, fall on the fraternity houses.

These historically implemented social regulations shape the social scene at Lafayette, and will likely do so for years to come.