The New York Times recently reported on an idea that could reduce incidents of sexual assault on college campuses: more parties in sororities. The concept is that if women ran more of the social activities on campus they would have more control over the conditions that can lead to sexual assault.
The Times quoted Sivan Sherriffe, a senior at George Washington University: “I’ve always thought, ‘Why aren’t there sorority house parties? There are only frat parties,’ ” she said to a friend, Dania Roach, a fellow senior. Ms. Roach replied: “I would definitely feel safer at a sorority party. It’s the home-court advantage.”
As alumni of Wesleyan’s DKE fraternity, we support efforts to make the University as safe as possible, and while there is no proof that Wesleyan’s fraternities are any more dangerous for women than the University’s own dorms, we think it’s an excellent idea for sororities to play a larger role in the social life of any college or university.
Unfortunately, one place where this will not be possible is Wesleyan. Although the Administration says it supports gender equity and public safety, it has adamantly refused to allow the University’s one sorority – Rho Epsilon – to gain its own house. The Administration’s hostility to Rho Ep is inexplicable. In a letter to the Trustees about Fraternities, President Roth noted that Swarthmore recently had to add a sorority because “Title IX meant they couldn’t say no, and if we keep fraternities at Wesleyan, we might be forced to accept applications for sororities.”
What would be so terrible about letting sororities have their own home at Wesleyan? This is something we don’t understand. The University offers a wide variety of specialty community-based living for students with targeted political, cultural and lifestyle interests. If you want to live in a house because you’re interested in environmentalism, that’s fine, but if you want to live with other women that’s a problem.
We think this is exactly backward, narrow-minded and biased. Women should have their own house – for parties, mutual support, friendship, and a richer student experience.