VOLUME 1 ISSUE 12   December 2004
December 1921: Nita-Nee Campus Club for women formed
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Nita-Nee Campus Club for Women, 1921
The “brothel law” is a popular myth used to explain the history of sorority housing on campus. While the housing guidelines used for women in the early 1920s were put in place mainly because of issues regarding space, a moral code for female students attending the University was also enforced. With the formation of Nita-Nee Campus Club for Women in December 1921, this moral code was challenged and a small victory was won for female students.

In the 1920s, women comprised about 10 percent of the student body and most lived either in McAllister Hall, the Women’s Building, or converted faculty housing on campus. As the enrollment demand for female students grew, some of the women were permitted to live with pre-selected families off campus.

One solution to the housing problem for women would have been to allow them to form sororities, the female counterpart to the male fraternity. Margaret A. Knight, the dean of women at the time, acknowledged the fact that lack of living accommodations was the greatest problem faced by women at Penn State. However, she rigidly opposed the formation of sororities. She felt that such groups were not only undemocratic and elitist but also that they steered girls away from the proper ideals of a college education.

In December 1921, approval was won from the college senate committee on student welfare for the formation of the Nita-Nee Campus Club, the first women’s club. The group was not permitted to use Greek letters or admit freshmen, but the approval laid the initial foundation for the women’s movement that followed decades later, bringing these gender specific codes of conduct into question once again.

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