Women Deserve Equal Access

I’m pleased to hear that measures are being taken to ensure equality of women’s spaces on campus. Finally the initiative to orchestrate the distribution of women’s spaces is being given serious thought and support.  I truly don’t understand the backlash against having sororities on campus. Perhaps it is because the actual word “sorority” has such negative connotations in our culture and evokes images of women in an adverse light. Perhaps too much emphasis is being caught up in the word “sorority” without delving into the true issue at hand. If Swarthmore men are allowed access to Greek life, exclusive spaces on campus, as well as significant control over weekend events, then I wholeheartedly believe that women should have the same access.

Swarthmore women deserve equal access to space; places that women can control, monitor, and feel safe within. Having an exclusive women’s space that is open on weekends and available for events and meetings will improve our sense of community. Ever since coming here, I have put Swarthmore women on a pedestal. I think that we have the ability to build an inclusive, hospitable space for women that is above stereotypical images of college sororities. I strongly believe that that image is outdated and Swarthmore women have so much more to offer.

Rachel Branker ’12 is a member of the Swarthmore Ladies Soiree Society (LaSS). 




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0 comments

    1. 0
      Anon.Y.Moose says:

      You’re right, traditionally Greek life organisations have been exempted whenever there is conflict with existing Brothel legislation that would ban more than 4 unrelated women/men from living in the same house. The sorority issue still stands: a sorority would not be entitled to be a wet space, and would have its charter revoked by the national organisation, if it were to be discovered to have alcohol within its walls.

  1. 0
    Anon.Y.Moose says:

    Just to be clear Nina, thanks to national sorority regulations as well as Pennsylvania anti-brothel legislation, sororities are prohibited from serving or even possessing alcohol. At other schools sororities hold their parties in the houses of fraternities, so I’m afraid a sorority is not necessarily the answer to your problem. I am fully in favor of female Greek life on this campus, but I think you’ll need to redress your reasons for supporting the move.

    1. 0
      Nina says:

      ok, GAME CHANGER.

      but…under 21yr olds are also prohibited from consuming serving possessing alcohol but that seems to go on at frats….

      still a game changer though, thanks for the heads up!

      1. 0
        Anon.Y.Moose says:

        Am I still your favorite if I tell you I’m a greek-life affiliated straight white male? You don’t seem to like those. Please stop using the proposal of sororities as a platform to hate on Greek life at Swarthmore, which is very unimposing and completely avoidable if you so wish.

        1. 0
          I love being told how to feel says:

          Wow Anon.Y.Moose, I used to think that frats controlling half the party spaces on campus was actually pretty imposing for whenever I wanted to go out and party without being in a male-dominated space, but you know what, I really needed a man to tell me that I was wrong to feel that way. Thank you for showing me the way.

        2. 0
          MC says:

          You’re still my favorite for that tidbit, bro.

          Also, would it remain unimposing if sororities came in? Also, did you read my article wherein I’m not actually discussing Swat Greek life?

  2. 0
    Nina says:

    You’re right, the most crucial difference is who is funding and throwing it. Saturday night at Swat if a girl doesn’t feel like grinding in the super-sexed atmosphere of Paces, she often ends up being a guest at the frats. Like the WRC does now, a sorority would provide women with a space that they can relax in because they feel like they have a claim to. The big difference being that some girls like to relax with some wine or a beer, and since the WRC is dry it doesn’t provide that.
    Carmen put it perfectly with her comment, “If the reason someone wants a space is so she can get her beirut on without worrying about how her ass looks while she shoots, I think that is something that is valid and needs to be addressed.”

    1. 0
      rando says:

      But how would you maintain the integrity of that space and keep it distinct from the frat environment? Would it be closed to frat boys? To anyone who might look at your ass while you play Beirut?

      1. 0
        Nina says:

        Its not that someone “might” look at my ass, its that I would be able to react to it however I want to because I wouldn’t be a guest in that persons house.
        No, I envision the parties being open to the whole campus community. I think having ownership of the space would be enough to provide that relaxed atmosphere.

        1. 0
          M says:

          You say, “having ownership of the space would be enough to provide that relaxed atmosphere”. Honestly, I don’t really understand this. I don’t know what the distinction is between the space being “owned” by a fraternitity and it being “owned” by a sorority. The spaces are ultimately shared, to the purpose of everyone’s enjoyment (as I understand it). Is there really an issue of being able to stand up for yourself when someone treats you in a way you don’t like because it’s a “frat space” versus a “sorority space”? Perhaps it’s time to reexamine the frats instead of adding another place where some group of people is going to be uncomfortable or left out.

          1. 0
            Alex '12 says:

            M,
            here’s an analogy that will hopefully be helpful (and apologies if it’s not).

            As an individual person, there is a difference between throwing a party and being a guest at a party. No matter what your social position in the world outside of it, in the space of your home, you have the control.
            If you were to be a guest at someone else’s house, you would expect a certain level of respect from both the host and the other guests, but if you don’t get it, there is little you can do about it. If another guest disrespects you, you can try to handle it yourself, but can only do so within the position you inhabit in the world. You have no special authority. You can take it up with the host, but you can’t override their decision of whatever to do about it. Other than trying to handle the situation with possible success, your only other option is to just leave.
            However, if you are holding your own party and someone disrespects you, you are the one who holds that position of authority. You can pressure them to be better, or you can just kick them out.

    2. 0
      MC says:

      So would sorority parties only allow female-identified folks in, to create this relaxing atmosphere? I guess I’m just confused as to how the space would operate differently from a frat.

  3. 0
    MC says:

    Can someone tell me (because I think it’s a legitimately interesting and possibly awesome idea) what a women’s party space looks like? What will be the difference between a sorority’s party here vs. a DU party, other than who is funding and throwing it?

    This question of “a woman-controlled party space” keeps coming up and up and up, but no one has offered a vision of what that looks like and how it’s differentiated from the party spaces we have now.

  4. 0
    but... ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Um…
    You know the WRC exists, right?
    There /is/ an exclusive woman’s space. You just choose not to use it. And if you’re not going to make that choice, you shouldn’t get to create a sorority just because you don’t like the space that already exists.

      1. 0
        Bob Dole says:

        If the WRC being dry, plus gender equality, is justification enough for having a sorority, then I am wholeheartedly behind the idea. As long as we also get a dry space designated as the Men’s Resouce Center, and everything that goes along with that.

      2. 0
        rando says:

        So talk to the WRC about it. The WRC makes decisions based on what people want from the space. If you don’t get involved with the leadership/stewardship of that space, then of course it’s not going to be what you expect. Work with the resources that already exist, people.

  5. 0
    not a sorority girl says:

    I went to a LASS meeting once and was disappointed because it seemed to consist mostly of a friend group that would get together to gossip, but I was inspired by the points they made about the lack of a female party space on campus. I’m sick of having to be a guest in “someone else’s” space every time I want to casually wind down. The reason I support sororities on campus is because I believe LASS doesn’t cut it. Women’s Rugby is great but what about girls who aren’t into sports or are already playing another one? Grapevine is great but its in no way enough. What are we all so scared of? If its a sexist, racist, heteronormative space then I promise to be the first to make a fuss about it. As Halloween at Sharples has taught me, there are MANY people here that like to get freaky sometimes and I believe a sorority would be a great way to reach across all sorts of boundaries and unite as women that like to party.
    Also, we have a really great opportunity here to create a sorority of our own from scratch, not tied down by a tradition rooted in prejudice. A whole lot of Swarthmore women fashioning a sorority the way they think it should be sounds like a wonderful thing, why the hate?

      1. 0
        Nina says:

        You choose to be “not part of the whole lot.” If you are worried about any part of what a sorority might look like, the best way to make sure it turns out wonderful is to be involved in the process. The one thing that is sure to ruin this project is if women that don’t fall into the typical LASS crew boycott it. This idea has a lot of potential, but if it isn’t supported by a diverse group of women I’m afraid it will be a total disaster. Its easy to reject it, watch it consequently fail and then say I told you so. Why can’t we look at this as an opportunity for positive change instead?

  6. 0
    not a sorority girl says:

    I’m not in lass but would definitely be interested in joining a sorority if there was one on campus. I’m kind of stunned by all this backlash honestly.

  7. 0
    ZW'12 says:

    Rachel, I share your belief that if we were to have sororities here at Swat, then women-identified folk would indeed rise about pesky stereotypes about sorority sisters that are pervasive in the media.
    My blood pressure is rising a bit, though, because of the section of the first paragraph that starts with “I truly don’t understand…” Maybe you’re responding to something that wasn’t published in a college periodical, but It’s a little belittling to be told that I and others hold our views just because we haven’t done our homework. You don’t have to instruct me about the connotation of the word “sorority”, nor do you have to tell me to look beyond it.
    I think the “true issue at hand” doesn’t operate along the binary that you’re constructing: if men are allowed to access Greek life, then everyone should be allowed to access Greek life and have a stake in party spaces. As it turns out, not everyone at Swarthmore is a particular type of man, a particular type of women, or a particular type of man-or-women. Of course women should have a stake in social spaces, but at the exclusion of people who are genderqueer or non-binary? I’m a little less willing to make that tradeoff, and more willing to just do away with gendered Greek life altogether.

  8. 0
    wearing a tin hat says:

    is there anyone on campus who feels that members of lass or frat brothers may have a valid point of view, and not necessarily one that is predicated exclusivity and bigotry?

    1. 0
      i sense a conspiracy says:

      Ya, possibly, the sorority issue was simply framed in an obnoxious pseudo-progressive style by the organizers which caused quite the uproar. If you read Lisa Sendrow’s article, I think she sums it up quite nicely the generally feelings of most on campus.

      Having a sorority doesn’t necessarily = exclusivity and bigotry. But, the fact is, they have meant that in the past. So, how do we negate those influences?

      Also, can I just make a final point and say that nowhere has anyone discussed the positive things that sorority will do? What about networking, and sisterhood, charity and service, and every other reason LaSS exists? Maybe no one brings them up because there’s already a group on campus that’s doing these things, so having a sorority really isn’t about them at all. Instead, it’s about a wet space. The fact that it’s only LaSS girls pushing for it makes me think that we’re only having this debate because LaSS wants it’s own space

      1. 0
        Carmen Perez-Leahy says:

        Actually, if you look at the three women the Phoenix reports are drafting the proposal only one of them is in LaSS. So clearly that’s not the “only” reason there is a push for a sorority.

        1. 0
          i sense a conspiracy says:

          However, 2 of the female in favor articles here are by LaSS members. 3/5 at least… I think there’s some more behind the scenes stuff going on with the other two, but I’ll refrain from commenting on that

          1. 0
            Carmen says:

            Ok? So 2.5/5 (only counting myself as half in favor) of people INTERVIEWED are in favor. What about all the people in LaSS who didn’t write a column? What about the sorority supporters not in LaSS? Do they not count because they didn’t write an op-ed? This is not a “LaSS thing” as much as everyone seems to want to portray it that way.

    1. 0
      why are you hating on lass? says:

      Hopefully I’m misreading what you and some other commenters have been saying here, but why is everyone hating on LASS? First of all, this issue isn’t about LASS, it’s about brining a whole new kind of all-women’s group to campus. LASS is a group where you can meet other women and make new friends who like to reach out to their community. LASS raises money for a number of charities. A group of members participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s earlier this year. So I just don’t understand why some people here are making LASS out to be a bad thing…… you don’t like young women who want to do positive things?

      On a different note:
      Mr.(Ms) Conspiracy, I don’t understand why you think all members of LASS would automatically want to join a sorority on campus. Although I’m a member of LASS, I probably wouldn’t join a sorority on campus.

    2. 0
      hmmmm seems like you didn't get the point says:

      Why does it matter if LASS memebers or non-LASS members are interested in a sorority. There are obviously many students backing both sides. To say that the idea of a sorority is a “LASS” thing not only makes you biased but obviously uninterested in what the article clearly tries to examine: the imbalance of equal spaces for women and lack of women controlling Swarthmore social events. Try not be so superficial in your comments

      1. 0
        Naw, you didn't get the point. says:

        I think the OP of the comment is talking about a lack of representation… When everyone who is in support of a certain issue is all from a certain small sector, you start getting kind of suspicious about whether or not the decision in question is really for the good of the whole student population.

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