Mary Carlson settled into her new room last week in a home she now shares with 15 fraternity members.
For the summer months, she’s living on a floor with seven other girls in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, sleeping on a mattress that lies on the floor below a wooden loft etched with graffiti.
“It’s just kind of a different living situation,” said Carlson, a political science senior and University sorority member. “The house is really made for boys.”
At the University of Minnesota, all the sororities on the Panhellenic Council require their members to vacate their houses for the summer. This rule leaves many sorority members, like Carlson, searching for affordable housing options, and many turn to fraternities.
Looking for a place to live in Dinkytown for only three months can be difficult, so a fraternity can be a good option, said Matt Levine, program director for the Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life.
“Unless you want to spend a little more money, our fraternities are really affordable options,” he said.
PHC President Talia Saville said most of the sororities close for renovations and because it is expensive to keep a sorority open during the summer months.
At Alpha Chi Omega, for example, the summer is a time for projects to keep the house up-to-date, said Lorna Fox, president of the Alpha chapter of Alpha Chi Omega House Corporation Board.
Although they abide by the rule, many sorority members don’t necessarily understand why they have to move out, Saville said.
“It’s been like that for as long as any of us can remember,” Saville said. “That’s the way it is.”
Fox said the summer closure policy could be a “culture thing.”
“For men, they seem to stay year-round.” she said. “Sororities tend to look at it more as a school-year living opportunity.”
At the sorority Delta Gamma, members are required to move out when school isn’t in session, said Delta Gamma spokeswoman Mary Ellen Hardies.
“The timing is sometimes difficult,” Alpha Gamma Delta President Emily Claridge said. “[But] most girls are able to find places.”
Alpha Chi Omega member Reed Mosimann said she moved into the Chi Psi fraternity because it’s close to her work at the University recreation center and she also has a summer internship near the house’s location.
“Last summer, I lived at home and just ended coming to campus almost every weekend anyway,” she said, “I felt like it made sense to live here.”
Mosimann said she shares the fraternity house with five other women and she enjoys the freedom of having fewer rules and regulations compared to living in the sorority house.
Despite not having amenities that come with the sorority house, like a house mom and a cleaning staff, she said she prefers to live in the fraternity over the summer because it’s a great way to meet others in the greek community.
“If I had been picky about those more minuscule details, I think I would have chosen to live somewhere else,” Mosimann said.
Only one sorority, Lambda Delta Phi, an associate chapter of the PHC, stays open at the University during the summer. Lambda Delta Phi President Karyn Olsen said the sorority house stays open all year because alumnae own their house and it’s easier to maintain because it’s smaller.
“We open our house to anyone who wants to live here for the summer,” she said.