Sorority house is the true bad neighbor

The attitudes of a University sorority’s members toward the Portland House, a Marcy-Holmes halfway house, exemplify a lack of human compassion. For the sorority to attempt to oust its neighbors solely on the basis of their pasts is ridiculous. The sorority continues to find Portland House’s residents guilty of their crimes despite the fact that they have already served the majority of their prison time. It is discrimination to bar anyone from residing in a certain locale. The Portland House has as much of a right to be in the neighborhood as the sorority does.
It is understandable that the sorority objects to the Portland House tenants parking in its driveway and cutting across its lawn. But the halfway house has addressed and attempted to rectify these problems by making plans for a fence and installing security cameras. One must wonder whether the trespassers are exclusively Portland House residents or other community members as well. Discussion between the two houses would alleviate many of the problems better than accusations. Can the sorority members so readily differentiate between their neighbors and other community residents?
The sorority’s bringing Rob Fowler into the issue at this time is only skirting around the real issues. By establishing adequate two-way communication, the need for planning rallies and resolutions would be removed.
Although Fowler’s proposed resolution forbidding the placement of halfway houses lodging sexual offenders near schools is, to a certain extent, a good one, it will have no effect on the Portland House as sex offenders are not accepted there. Boundaries must be specified before any law can be seriously considered. In particular, it must be decided which schools will be protected. As college students, sorority members are no longer juveniles and should not require special attention under the law. This resolution should not apply to adults.
Rob Fowler believes housing criminals near University campuses is wrong. He has also stated that sex offenders should not be located by “single sex housing,” i.e., sororities and fraternities. Does Mr. Fowler believe that there are no other criminals living among the University of Minnesota’s 60,000+ people?
In the real, nonUniversity world, people do not always know the personal histories of their neighbors. The only reason the Portland House is subject to scrutiny is because it is a halfway house. But the residents go through a series of reviews in order to live there and, once moved in, are closely monitored. That the sorority members “are practically running from the car to the house” seems unjustifiably paranoid. There is always a chance of attack or harm no matter where a person is, be it campus, downtown, home or elsewhere. Neighbors under strict surveillance should be lower on the sorority’s list of concerns than many other threats.
According to the National Panhellenic Conference’s Web site, sorority membership “offers opportunities for sisterhood, leadership, scholarship and social and philanthropic activities.” The average philanthropist would perceive being located next to a place of rehabilitation as an opportunity to better themselves and assist others. The sorority could make the Portland House a better place to be both in and around by refocusing their energy and collaborating with them.
The sorority’s closed-mindedness when it comes to the Portland House is not only unfounded, but hypocritical. If the halfway house has been in the Marcy-Holmes community for 25 years, why is it only now that local residents are initiating efforts to remove it from the area?
Halfway houses are intended to make the transition from prison to civilian life easier for individuals who have already served the better part (so to speak) of their sentences. They deserve a chance to begin a normal life once again. Since deviation from their mandated routines results in a return to jail, good behavior is in the best interest of all halfway house residents.
That the sorority house requested anonymity is the final absurdity. Anyone should be able to figure out which one it is. Just look for the irrational young women fearfully running from the sidewalk to their front door right next to the Portland House. The concerns of the sorority should be solved through dialogue and understanding, not animosity and accusations.

Amanda Goetzman is a junior in journalism and a Daily graphic designer. Stephanie Thompson is a senior in English and the Daily’s advertising production manager.