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Sororities enforce ‘structural inequality’ by not allowing alcohol

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Sororities enforce ‘structural inequality’ by not allowing alcohol

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Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

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by Anna Waletzko, Staff Columnist

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When the weekend comes around, people flock to the fraternity houses.

There’s a constant stream of foot traffic on frat row as kegs are rolled in, bottles purchased, punch mixed and themes created.

When it comes to parties, people leave the sorority houses and go into the fraternity houses.

But according to the New York Times, the opposite is happening at Dartmouth University.

Sigma Delta, a sorority with no national affiliation, is holding their own parties, and it has brought up the topic of alcohol within sorority walls.

By not allowing alcohol in the sorority house a form of structural sexism occurs.

“The result of such policies is that if only fraternity houses can be gatekeepers of parties, only fraternities are able to gain cultural and social respect. It’s creating a form of structural inequality,” Matthew Hughley, a University of Connecticut sociology professor, told the Huffington Post.

Alcohol should be allowed in sorority homes for a plethora of reasons, but perhaps one of the most important is the control of parties.

This way those who chose to drink know the layout of the house and what they’re pouring into their drinks, and the college social scene wouldn’t revolve only around frat house parties.

Lifting the ban on alcohol in sorority homes would also give non-Greek life members a chance to attend parties controlled by women.

Sororities have strict rules on drinking in order to keep their living space — and reputation — clean.

“The standard is as old as sororities are. It was born in a more Victorian era, but moved from tradition to policy over the years,” said Julie Johnson, National PanHellenic Committee Chairwoman, in an interview with the Huffington Post.

But perhaps it’s time to change this old and outdated policy.

“The women of sororities were often looked upon as fragile people who should only engage in high brow activities,” Hughley said in an interview with the Huffington Post.   

The purpose of allowing alcohol inside sorority houses is not to encourage drinking, but rather to promote a safe drinking environment and equality within the Greek life. What happens if a sorority member wants to watch Netflix and have a glass of wine in their home?

“The no-alcohol rule can be hard, especially if you’re over 21 and living in the house, because you’re like, ‘Okay I’m legally allowed to have that … But I can’t,’” Delta Gamma member Emily Marsden said.

Since sororities don’t allow their girls to drink within the home, they have no choice but to go frat parties and consume alcohol there.

With no alcohol in the sorority homes, fraternities have become the dominant social scene — and it’s often a dangerous one.

Of course, allowing sororities to throw house parties with alcohol involved would in no way eliminate sexual assaults, but it could possibly be a step in the right direction.

A 2007 study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice found fraternity men were more likely to perpetrate sexual assault or sexual aggression than non-fraternity men.

The same study also found that women who attended fraternity parties were more likely to be sexually assaulted.

“It would be interesting to see how the date-rape culture would change. … They can go upstairs and lock the door and not have to wonder how to get out,” Cornell University senior Fielding Williams told the New York Times.

However, due to a recent increase in awareness about sexual assaults on college campuses, fraternities are beginning to change their rules.

At the University of Virginia, allegations last fall involving a gang rape and administration cover-up led to massive rule changes. As reported by USA Today:

“Beer can still be served as long as it is unopened in its original can. Wine can also be served as long as it poured visibly at the bar by a sober brother. When there are more guests than brothers at a party, liquor can only be served by a third-party, licensed bartender. At smaller parties, liquor can be brought by individuals and placed at a central bar, which is overseen by a sober brother.”

With fraternities changing their rules, isn’t it time sororities do the same?

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