The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Should sororities be given chapter houses?

You have heard the legend, “Sororities don’t have chapter houses because 8 or more women living together is considered a brothel according to Pennsylvania law.” But has anyone ever challenged this? This misogynistic myth has shaped Bucknell to be accepting of patriarchal norms, which is ironic because Bucknell is a liberal arts institution that puts massive amounts of time and energy into DEI programming. If this law did exist, Hunt Hall would technically not be permitted, but, more importantly, Pennsylvania’s biggest state university, Pennsylvania State University, would not have permitted sororities to build chapter houses on campus. All of us were accepted into Bucknell, meaning that we all have some sort of logical thinking and know how to fact-check. Yet time and time again, we fall for this same old myth. So if this is just a legend, why doesn’t Bucknell allocate chapter houses to their sororities? 

Title IX prohibits “discrimination on the basis of sex within educational programs and activities.” With that in mind, would the lack of sorority chapter houses be unlawful under Title IX because fraternities have access to more housing options, parking spots, chefs, and single-sex spaces? I would go as far as to argue that not providing the same number of housing opportunities, parking spaces, and food options for women attending Bucknell goes against equal access to programs and activities. 

When Bucknell was founded in 1846, it was an all-male institution. According to Bucknell, women were prohibited from studying at the university until 1883. One reason why Bucknell may not have provided sorority houses is that in those 37 years the University had most likely allocated houses to various fraternities and opted not to give sororities houses once the school became co-ed. So now here we are, 51 years past Title IX’s initial signage date, and our sororities are still being denied the benefits and programming that come with chapter houses that the fraternities are receiving. 

Bucknell provides affinity housing for various interests. However, many of those houses are not used or change “affinities” every year. Bucknell has fifteen houses that are used as affinity houses, but only eleven active houses. There are eight sororities that should receive chapter houses. Bucknell could take eight of the fifteen affinity houses that rotate and make the chapter houses for the sororities, and keep seven affinity houses with some as “legacy” houses and some as rotating. Hunt Hall could then become sophomore housing which could help ease the housing crisis Bucknell is currently facing. 

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