PENN HOUSING POLICY IS “BAD NEWS” FOR FRATERNITIES
The Penn housing policy that sophomores may not live in fraternity houses has already begun to negatively affect the ability of fraternities to survive at the University of Pennsylvania.
One year after the policy was implemented, occupancy at fraternity houses is down significantly. It is reported that some fraternity chapter houses have temporarily closed and other fraternities have lost their chapter houses.
An article, titled “Fraternities struggle to meet occupancy requirements as sophomore housing policy takes hold”, that appeared in The Daily Pennsylvanian, on October 12, 2022, written by Radwan Azim, delves into the effects felt by the fraternities and the deleterious effects it has on Penn students as individuals. Lucas Loschiavo, Beta Pi ’21, president of Pi Kappa Alpha and vice president of programming for the Interfraternity Council, is quoted extensively in the article.
Contrary to the Penn administration’s explanations why the new housing policy is in the students’ best interests, the housing policy is detrimental to the personal growth of the students and their desire to be considered independent and capable adults.
Penn claims that forcing students to live on campus will provide greater access to university activities. Besides the fact that fraternity housing is within easy walking distance of Penn’s campus and provides the same access as living in a dormitory, Penn’s position ignores known human behavior. All students are not alike.
There will be some students that do not want to belong to a club (or fraternity). They have come to Penn to acquire academic learning that will benefit them after college. An off-campus home or apartment would acquaint these students to the real-life situations they aspire to.
Other students want a social life with their academic education and desire to learn how to live and work with others. They seek friends with like interests that can be a foundation for mutual support, mentoring, socialization, and learning to live and work with others. At Penn, dormitory living has never been able to provide them with the full college experience they desire and lead to a life of achievement.
Shared vision, values, and goals, provide the basis for true success in life. Getting an education at Penn should be more than adding to the dollars Penn earns by forcing them to live in Penn dormitories, where Penn pockets the rents, and eat in Penn dining halls, to which Penn sophomores must pay in advance for a full year of dining, whether they eat there or not. Penn should be providing an environment that is conducive to students being a success in life. There is an education that fraternities can provide that Penn does not provide. Fraternities prioritize personal growth and teamwork as opposed to the Penn policies that can be described as exploitative of the students.
French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville has stated, “Among the laws that rule human societies, there is one which seems to be more precise and clear than all others. If men are to remain civilized or to become so, the art of associating together must grow and improve in the same ratio in which the equality of conditions is increased.”
Expectations, memories, stories, and relationships guide destinies. Fraternity men share a common purpose and create a community in which a student can learn to live outside an academic environment. That is why fraternities have succeeded at Penn. Most students want to make their own choices where to live, where to eat, and with whom to associate.
Achieving familiarity with the campus, by forcing students to live in “University housing” and dining in university dining rooms, should not be the aim of an Ivy League institution. The goal should be in developing successful and loyal alumni.