Editorial: Sororities, fraternities deserve equal social opportunities


A group of women pose for a photo with their greek recruitment leader, known as a Rho Gamma, during bid day Aug. 20. 

Editorial Board

Many sororities don’t allow their chapters around the nation to keep alcohol on their premises, and according to a YouGov/Huffington Post survey in October 2014, some may like to keep it that way.

A YouGov/Huffington Post survey of 1,000 U.S. adults interviewed between Oct. 16-20, 2014 found that only 24 percent of the surveyed adults think this rule should be changed to allow sororities to have alcohol at parties, compared to 58 percent who say sororities should not be allowed to have alcohol.

Iowa State boasts 60 greek chapters on campus. Just about 15 percent of the ISU undergraduate student population is involved in some sort of greek community, and according to ISU Office of Greek Affairs fall 2014 numbers, women in sororities outnumbered the amount of men in fraternities by nearly 400.

This is not a jab at Iowa State, as the chapters at the university level have no power to deviate from their national chapters’ policies.

This is really a question for the greek community: why, in 2015, is such a widened gender gap present?

Not every collegiate social event needs to involve alcohol. Alcohol is not required to have fun. But completely forbidding the substance from a house adds to the gender gap this country already faces. Allowing alcohol in sorority houses could give the women the opportunity to take back the nightlife scene rooted in fraternity houses.

The women don’t even have the option to host such parties, something that could give them the power to better control the environment and who they allow to enter the event. Granted, some sorority houses may not even be interested in hosting a party. Longstanding chapter values and traditions may not support allowing alcohol or hosting these types of social events.

Yes, sorority chapters with houses are bound to host women under the legal drinking age, but so do fraternity houses, and some of those chapters allow alcohol. We’re not condoning or encouraging underage drinking, but on a college campus, it’s bound to happen, as young people who want alcohol are going to find a way to get it. The police blotter is there to prove it. And with about half of the undergraduate population under the legal drinking age, the bar scene can’t provide an equal-opportunity neutral ground for drinking alcohol.

The proportion of sexual assaults that occurs at fraternity houses is unknown, but a 2007 study for the National Institute of Justice found that women who attend fraternity parties were more likely to be sexually assaulted. It also found, “the frequency with which women attended fraternity parties since entering college was positively associated with being a victim of incapacitated sexual assault.” And alcohol significantly increases the possibility of a sexual assault, according to the Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey.

If women were allowed their right to keep alcohol in their houses and host their own weekend social events, they would be able to control what’s in the beverages and who is allowed to enter the residence. They would be more familiar with their surroundings.

Not every party at a fraternity house results in a sexual assault. A sexual assault could also occur at a party hosted by a sorority. Adding alcohol to any situation doesn’t decrease the risk for sexual assault.

This is not all about the risk of sexual assault or providing the opportunity to give more alcohol to of age or underage students.

Men and women on a public university campus in 2015 should have that equal opportunity.