As students scramble to secure housing for the next academic year, those in fraternities and sororities are turning to their brothers and sisters to obtain a lease.
Today marks the deadline for students leasing from University City’s biggest realtor, Campus Apartments, to renew their contracts. Many upperclassmen who will no longer occupy their residences have made agreements to “pass down” their lease.
This practice is especially prevalent among the Greek community where students advertise their leases through chapter meetings and listservs. As a result, many Greeks living off-campus know where they will live next year up to 10 months in advance, well before their peers who apply to college houses.
“After living in the chapter house, if you want to live with your brothers, housing is pretty much guaranteed,” said Engineering sophomore Dane Mainella, a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
College sophomore and Delta Delta Delta sorority member Chelsea Morris said she searched for a house through her “big,” and then proceeded to ask other sorority upperclassmen.
There is an implicit understanding within her sorority that members receive preference over non-members when it comes to passing down off-campus houses.
“If there are three groups interested in the same house, the group with the most Tri Delts will probably determine who gets the house,” Morris added.
Sigma Kappa sorority holds a similar tradition. Wharton junior and SK member Rachel McMorris obtained an off-campus house from a sorority sister who advertised it in a chapter meeting.
“They give preference to people in SK. It’s a tradition,” McMorris said, adding that the “bigs” of the two girls she applied with are the current leaseholders.
McMorris is currently living in an apartment on 40th and Pine streets that she found through her sorority listserv. She plans to continue the tradition by transferring leases to her sorority sisters.
After College sophomore Dylan Petro was unable to secure a lease through his fraternity network, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon brother worked directly with leasing offices to search for a house.
He found that many houses would only be available for one to two hours before they were given away to other students who had relationships with current leaseholders.
One landlord in particular changed his mind about renting a house to Petro when he found out that he wished to live with a group of fraternity brothers.
“They thought we would destroy the house immediately,” Petro added. “Not everyone in a fraternity wants to live in a disgusting party house.”
Housing options available to Greeks “strongly influenced” Engineering sophomore Irene Jadic to join Penn’s newest sorority, Zeta Tau Alpha, last year. Inexpensive rent that included utilities and bills made living in the chapter house on 40th and Walnut streets a seemingly desirable option.
However, Jadic — who moved out of the Zeta house after two months — soon realized “it’s hard to deal with that many girls in one house.” She has since deactivated from the sorority due to conflicts between housemates.
Those who do not obtain housing through relationships with current leaseholders often turn to realtors’ lists which become available after the renewal deadline.
Campus Apartments plans to release its list of available houses tomorrow at midnight.
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