There is a common misconception on campus that sororities can’t have houses because of a D.C. law that would consider it a brothel.
“I have definitely heard of the brothel issue,” junior Sigma Delta Tau member Michele Spielman said. “(But) I never asked anyone, I just accepted it.”
Spielman and other students attribute what amounts to an urban legend to a rumor that GW sororities were not allowed their own houses because of a city law mandating that six or more unrelated women living together constitutes a brothel.
During Colonial Inauguration last summer, University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg told incoming freshmen this D.C. law is a myth.
Last September Trachtenberg received a memorandum from Vice President and General Counsel Dennis Blumer indicating “the Washington D.C. law concerning the presumption that six or more unrelated women living together (is) a brothel” does not seem to exist.
GW has tried to locate this regulation and failed to find any such law, searching “under criminal, property and zoning provisions, in addition to any other provisions that seemed logical,” according to the memo.
Mayor Anthony Williams’ office, the D.C. Office of Documents and the Board of Education all report no knowledge of the supposed brothel law.
While this rumor has been proven false, most GW sororities do not have their own “sorority house.”
Nini Khozeimeh, president of the Panhellenic Council, said Delta Gamma and Kappa Kappa Gamma sororities rent suites from the University to house members.
Khozeimeh said groups at GW cannot own houses because of national rules governing sororities.
“One chapter can’t go and buy a house unless the opportunity is there for everyone else, according (to) equal housing opportunity on a national level,” she said.
Khozeimeh said it is “beneficial to have housing but not central to Greek-letter life on GW’s campus.”
Some sorority members said having a house would help bring their organizations together, which is easier for fraternities on campus.
Senior and Kappa Kappa Gamma member Carolyn Majors said having a house would make it “a lot easier to hold meetings and social events (and) would really bring our sorority together.”
Spielman agreed, adding that houses would “liven up Greek life in GW.”
Many sororities reserve rooms in the Marvin Center for meetings, while meet in the suites their presidents live in, which often cannot accommodate all members.
University officials have proposed building housing for fraternities and sororities in the parking lot behind the Smith Center at 23rd and G street.
“(University officials) have talked about a Greek village, but that is several years down the road when they have more property … for fraternities and sororities to lease,” Khozeimeh said.