Section: News

Gender inequalities in Greek housing spark controversy

Gender inequalities in Greek housing spark controversy

Photo by Cora Markowitz

Symbols of Kenyon’s historic, all-male fraternities are omnipresent in South Quad residence halls.

Hanna, Leonard and Old Kenyon bear such Greek identifiers as letters welded to doors and crests painted on hallway and lounge walls. Now, a new Greek Council committee dedicated to addressing gender equality issues in Kenyon’s Greek life system plans to examine housing disparities between fraternities and sororities.

This year, each of the three sororities in division housing has eight beds, while the lowest number of beds out of the six fraternities with division is 10, in Delta Phi’s (DPhi) division in Hanna.

A Campus Senate division housing statute requires that 75-percent of an organization’s members live in division housing, “as space permits.”

Laura Kane, director of student activities and Greek life, said sororities cannot realistically meet that threshold due to the lack of beds.

Since the division housing statute was approved in 2010, the 75-percent threshold is no longer realistic for some fraternities that have since expanded, according to Lisa Train, associate director for Housing and Residential Life.

Lindsay Stoner ’18, a sister of Theta Delta Phi (Thetas), is spearheading the process as head of the gender equality committee. Stoner declined to comment for this article, citing the preliminary nature of the initiative.

In 2009, Kenyon sororities submitted a proposal to the Housing and Dining Committee to convert their theme housing into division housing, citing the gender inequality of such housing. This led to a review of division housing that ultimately granted division to sororities as well as College Township Fire Department employees and substance-free Wellness residents, according to Tacci Smith, associate dean of students.

The next year the Psi Upsilon (Psi U) fraternity had their division housing in Leonard revoked for disciplinary reasons. Sororities were granted use of the former Psi U division housing and several independent rooms, all in Leonard. The Psi U lounge in north Leonard was also dubbed the “sorority lounge” for shared use by the groups.

Greek Council President Greta Greising ’16 would like to see North Campus Apartments made available to the sororities so they can have their own common spaces. The fraternity lounges are available for public use but given their historically fraternal affiliation and names, “we don’t feel that it’s our space to use,” Greising said.

The NCAs would provide sororities with more housing space and could be granted in addition to existing division housing in Leonard, according to Dalin Frantz ’18, a committee member and brother of Phi Kappa Tau (Phi Taus).

Daisy VanDenburgh ’16, a sister of Epsilon Delta Mu (EDM), believes the traditionally smaller size of sororities and her own sorority’s past difficulty filling rooms in division limit the need to make changes to division housing.

If sororities do gain more housing, it would have to be on north campus, according to Kane.

“South is kind of packed with division right now, and we can’t just keep putting all division down south because independents, people that aren’t in division housing, also have the ability to live down there,” Train said.

VanDenburgh would like to see future construction projects include lounge space for sororities, though she does not see NCA housing as a solution to the lounge issue, as NCA common spaces are smaller than current fraternity lounges.

Non-affiliated student Yara Al-nouri ’18 said dispersing Greek housing would better integrate these students within the Kenyon community. She believes, in general, that Kenyon should support more community housing on campus.

Proposals for changes to division housing must be reviewed by the division housing board and Campus Senate. There is, however, currently no timeline for when the discussion will become an actual proposal. Before any decision is made, however, Train wants a wider discussion, including input from students, the administration, alumni and national Greek organizations.

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