Contrary to the rumor that has circulated around college campuses for decades, the “brothel law” — a supposed restriction on how many women are allowed to live in a house together — is not the reason why sororities at other universities are forbidden from providing housing for their members.
Unlike the Interfraternity Council or the Multicultural Greek Council, “I think the understanding from NPC is that a new group will not come to campus if they’re placed at a competitive disadvantage,” Director of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Eddie Banks-Crosson said. For this reason, every sorority has a house at Penn, though there is no rule that mandates it.
However, the National Panhellenic Conference reached out in an email after the publication of this article to clarify, "the NPC does not have such a policy re housing and it generally isn’t a consideration for the College Panhellenic Council (which is specific to each campus). Housing may be a consideration for some inter/national member organizations (sorority headquarters etc.), but the NPC is actually seeing more member organizations compete for extension and colonizing on campuses with no housing. On a inter/national level, this shift has coincided with increases in the number of first-generation students and/or students who live off-campus."
The rule only applies to sororities that are looking to form a new chapter on campus. If one sorority cannot pay the rent on the house and its inhabitants get evicted, however, this would not place all other houses in jeopardy.
Since there is no Greek housing available at some other universities nationwide, the NPC often makes it a priority to discuss how it can compensate these sororities.
This rule does not apply to the IFC or the Multicultural Greek Council. Unlike the sororities at Penn, not every fraternity or multicultural organization has a house on campus.
Banks-Crosson said that a house should not be the selling point of joining a Greek organization.
“The facility may be an opportunity for everybody to come together and [for] it be a community space, but [the] actual experience should be within the young group of students,” Banks-Crosson said.
Banks-Crosson remained firm that this rule originated in the NPC. The infamous “brothel law” is not relevant to sorority housing, he said.
As a college student, Banks-Crosson remembered hearing the same urban myth.
“The wording of the rumor is still the same after 13 years,” Banks-Crosson said.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that a National Panhellenic Commission rule prevents sororities from colonizing on campus without a house. There is no such rule.
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