Is 6 Women Living in a House a Brothel?
(Front of the Sharon Lord Caskey Center where the SU sorority chapter rooms are.) Photo by Shanna Lucas
Chances are if you go to Southwestern you’ve probably heard this fun fact:
“Did you know that in Georgetown 6 or more women living in a house– without a man– is considered a brothel?”
But is this really true? Is that the reason we don’t have sorority houses? What is a brothel anyway? I set out on a quest to track this “law” down to its origins.
First stop was the Georgetown City Council, where I was informed that this is not a Georgetown law. Unsurprisingly, the word “brothel” is used nowhere in Georgetown’s Unified Development Code. The city does not regulate the amount of people living in a home whatsoever.
Interesting. Well this alone puts the rumor to rest but… Could it be a Southwestern ordinance?
I reached out to Southwestern Law Enforcement and was connected with Brad Dunn, chief of police for SUPD, who informed me that Southwestern has no such rule. He clarified that: “Under Texas law, the closest reference to brothel would be “Sexually oriented commercial activity” which means a massage establishment, nude studio, modeling studio, love parlor, or other similar commercial enterprise for the purposes of providing sexual stimulation for sexual gratification to the customer.”
Ok, if Southwestern has no such rule and Texas law very clearly defines what constitutes a brothel… Where in the world does this confusion originate? Could the City Council be mistaken?
I went to Ann Evans, who is a librarian at the Georgetown public library. She sent me a file of every historical ordinance in the city’s digital archive. Faced with hundreds of pages and an inability to use control “F”, I decided to use an alternative source. Anne pointed me toward a Snopes article that confirmed this “brothel law” is in fact a rumor. The article definitively states: “Brothels earn such designations solely on the basis of what goes on in them.”
Apparently this rumor, which dates back to the 1960s, has been spread on over 100 college campuses all across the country. Mysteriously: No one has any idea where it came from.
Snoops hypothesizes that the rumor may have originated from someone misremembering a “blue law”. Which have nothing to do with brothels!
Case closed: The notorious brothel “law” is bs.
If this isn’t a law, then do Southwestern students want sorority houses? Check out Grace Parmer’s article to find out! (Will be posted Friday, Nov. 4th).