With the current on-campus housing crisis, members of the Temple University sororities that have a house are counting themselves lucky to have a place to sleep near main campus, but they said that this is a side benefit to life as a sorority sister.
There are seven sororities at the University, but only two have houses – Phi Sigma Sigma and Alpha Epsilon Phi.
The President of Phi Sigma Sigma, Mary Gantz, was able to avoid the housing lottery process when she was a freshman in 2000.
Gantz already had her housing plans taken care of, since she became a member of Phi Sigma Sigma in the fall semester.
In February, she only had to worry about making a deposit to live in Phi Sigma Sigma’s house on Diamond Street – which houses 17 sorority sisters and is recognized by the national chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma.
“I knew I was going to live in the house,” Gantz said.
“It was so great I didn’t have to go through that ‘I hope I get a good lottery number situation.'”
The national chapter of Alpha Epsilon Phi does not officially recognize the sorority’s house on North 16th St., in which nine members live.
Recognition would mean that the sorority has to pay increased dues and keep the house up to certain standards.
This can be difficult given the generally low quality of housing that is available around the University.
“In order for us to have an official house it has to be really nice and up to code and it’s hard to find a place like that on Temple’s campus,” said Jenn Shaw, the president of Delta Zeta, one of the University’s sororities that does not have a house.
Having a sorority house on campus has its advantages and disadvantages. Some students do not like sharing a bedroom, bathroom, living room, kitchen and personal belongings with others.
However, sorority houses give the organization a place to meet and socialize without the hassle of reserving space in University buildings.
Delta Zeta holds its meetings in classrooms on campus or in the Student Center; the sorority has to worry about scheduling a meeting, securing a room and making sure nobody intrudes on ritualistic events or ceremonies.
“There are definitely advantages [to having a house],” said Shaw.
“There’s a place you can meet, like a common place. It might help you strengthen sisterhood, but it could also make it worse.”
Michelle Sugarman, president of Alpha Epsilon Phi, said the sorority opened their house last May; there has been a change in way that things can be done in a house as opposed to meeting in Barton Hall, where the sorority used to gather.
“I think they’re missing the common place,” Sugarman said of the sororities that don’t have a house.
“I think [a house is] just that general meeting spot.”
Members of Phi Sigma Sigma and Alpha Epsilon Phi said that it is a definite advantage to be able to stroll into their houses whenever they please knowing someone will be there.
“There’s a constant support system 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Gantz said.
“A girl can drop over here anytime of day and there’s someone here to help them with their problems. It’s definitely good for girls who join the sorority and don’t live on campus, they can stay here overnight. We have girls who stay here for days on end.”
A house can be a luxury, but only if you’re joining for proper intentions; even if you become a new member of a sorority, you’re still not guaranteed a room in a house.
“It really doesn’t help,” said Gantz of having a house during recruitment, “but it is a good publicity tool because of housing…I’ve never met any girls that come out just because of [the housing shortage].”
Chris Silva can reached at email@example.com.