Matt Walks and Grant Sutherland hang out in the rec room of the SAE fraternity house. (Alex McDougall/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Like any other housing decision, choosing to live in a fraternity or sorority isn’t always an easy call to make — and sometimes it’s not even your decision. Some chapter houses have live-in requirements, while others (typically sororities) have lottery or point systems to give members an equal shot at living in.

While each house is unique in its charms and harms, here’s a breakdown of some pros and cons of living in a house under letters.

The Best


Many houses, especially the ones on campus’s west border, were built in the early-20th century. Decades of history exist in the walls, and exploring old trophy cases is one of the most exciting parts of moving in for the first time. Knowing generations of brothers and sisters that stand for the same values you do have lived under the same roof is empowering and actually reassuring.

Convenient food

For those who live in houses with cooks, few things are better than rolling out of bed at 8 a.m. and having a hot breakfast waiting for you downstairs. Meal plans differ between chapters, but often meals are built into the price of rent. It might not always taste as good as Qdoba or Caspian, but it can’t be beat for convenience and cheapness. And for a college kid, what’s more valuable than that combination?

You’re never alone

From spur-of-the-moment basketball tournaments to always having someone to walk to class with, living with 30-plus of my best friends has been the biggest and brightest highlight of my last two years in college. There’s always someone to share in your successes and failures, and the unique living situation is a crash course in conflict resolution, politics, crisis management and counseling. And I mean that in a good way.

The Worst

You’re never alone

Okay, so, sort of a good way. I spent my winter break freshman year alone in my fraternity house. Even though I spent most of the time scared out of my mind (like, I couldn’t go to the basement without calling someone and having them talk me through it), I felt a little like Jay Gatsby in my spacious mansion. If there’s a downside to having the people you love around all the time, it’s not being able to have much “me time” where you live.

Lack of quiet time

In a similar vein, surprisingly not everyone wants to study while Skrillex is womping on the other sides of your paper-thin [email protected]@ But hey, the library’s just a walk away. Some houses institute quiet hours during Dead Week and finals, but a lot of dwellers still like to revel in living in the only place they’ll never have to worry about a noise [email protected]@does this make [email protected]@


I should point out that this applies pretty much only to fraternities. I have never seen a messy sorority common room, and I don’t think they exist. For guys, the rules on clean are predictably looser. On the plus side, after two years of living in, your immune system will be equipped to deal with anything in the known universe. Just don’t spend too much time trying to analyze that brown crust on the wall. Chances are, you don’t want to know.

On a sidenote, it’s important to note that a few chapters on campus don’t yet have houses. It’s not always easy to secure the land or the building, and Greek houses can be hard to insure. This distinction doesn’t make them less of an organization, though, and other factors like a chapter’s personality and achievements are often much more accurate things on which to base recruitment decisions.

Please consider donating to the Emerald. We are an independent non-profit dedicated to supporting and educating this generation's best journalists. Your donation helps pay equipment costs, travel, payroll, and more!