There is definite inequality between the presence of the fraternities and the sororities on this campus.
None of the members of the Editorial Board are Greek, but we all readily acknowledge the fact that sororities are literally pushed to the sides of campus and do not have the same opportunities or space as fraternity members do.
At Knox, fraternity members live in their multi-story houses and throw parties open to all of campus. Sorority members do not live in their single story, tiny houses and must go to other spaces on campus to host fundraiser events.
We understand that the houses and rules have been in place long before any students or most administrators were even on this campus. It is no one here’s fault that this is the situation, but it is our problem that this blatant instance of inequality is not being more loudly discussed.
Some of the problems extend beyond Knox. Many of the inequalities between sororities and fraternities can be attributed to Nationals. The fact that the National Panhellenic Council, which oversees sororities, forbids men from going on the second floor of buildings and staying the night and doesn’t allow women over 21 to possess alcohol are completely unrealistic, outdated and sexist philosophies.
Still, the fact remains that at Knox we constantly see fraternity members hanging out at the homes they live in. Sororities are quite literally out of sight from most of campus and only members really enter the houses. This impacts members’ abilities to recruit, be present on campus and feel safe as they are pushed away and out of sight from the rest of the Knox community.
We would feel much better walking past Beta and TKE members hanging out on their porches in the middle of campus, blasting music, if we knew that sorority members were given the same abilities and space on campus to do the same.
Right now, they are not.
The student body must discuss this situation. There is a lot of misinformation that circulates campus about why sorority members are not able to live in their houses. This needs to be cleared up and students, Greek or not, should be presented with the facts.
It is not illegal for more than six women to live in a house together in the state of Illinois. Doing so is not considered a brothel in the eye of the law. Nationals does allow sorority members to have residential houses.
Students should be speaking up more about this blatant instance of sexism as well. Knox students are passionate about justice and discussing inequalities, but have largely been silent about this very obvious instance of sexism on campus.
All of campus can and should discuss this issue, but people in sororities speaking up about their experiences and desire for change will carry the most weight.
We encourage the Knox administration to open up a forum for sorority members to hear their concerns and come to understand what they want or need from their houses. It may not be in the budget currently, but Knox could keep the work that needs to be done in mind or try to help sororities fundraise to meet their goals.
One main topic that should be a part of the discussion is safety. In the last few years, multiple sorority members have reported being catcalled or chased when walking to or from their sorority houses. The houses are on the outskirts of campus and lack visibility, foot traffic and lighting.
Maybe sorority members do not want to live in their houses because of the NPC’s stringent rules, but at the very least members deserve to feel safe and listened to. They deserve to have equal opportunities as fraternity members.
Ideally, it would be great to get the houses up to code or find bigger or new spaces for sorority members to meet or live in if they so desire. We know that changing the physical houses is a far-off goal, but administrators and sorority members can start making strides by initiating a conversation and listening to one another.
Editor’s Note: Co-News Editor Erika Riley did not write this editorial, as she wrote an article this week about Greek life that this editorial is responding to.