Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Sorority House = Brothel? Another Weird Law Debunked

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photo by UF Digital Collections

The collegiate life has been peppered with rumors and legends for as long as organized education has existed.  Stories featuring secret societies, legendary hazing rituals and haunted buildings are some of the more common (and colorful) tales known to be whispered in the corners of campus classrooms.  However, one of the most prominent urban legends that can be found running wild through the undercurrent of scholastic gossip is that of the rumored law forbidding more than five or six unrelated females from living together in a single house, on the basis that such a residence would constitute a brothel.  Although this law has never actually been documented, is commonly used (erroneously) to explain the lack of sorority houses on college campuses.

Now, the technical definition of a brothel is that of an establishment whose business is dedicated solely to prostitution.  That being said, the stereotypical lifestyle of the “sorority girl”, along with the concept of numerous young women living together, could lend itself to the perpetuation of this rumor.  Countless students from colleges and universities across the country have sought some record or factual basis in these claims.  Reported findings are sketchy at best and, in most cases, absent entirely.  The number of allowable women seems to vary from state to state, and no written record has ever been found of the law.  Rumors of the law seem to have emerged around the 1960’s, a decade which saw a drastic increase in the number of young women seeking higher education.  Although records in nearly every state have been traced as far back as the 1800’s, this brothel law simply can’t be proven.

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