Hey handsome, if you’re looking for a good time, look no further than the great state of New Jersey.
You know us wild Jersey girls, we’re such entrepreneurs and are always looking for a good time. You can bet that if more than a few of us are living together, we’ll eventually mix business with pleasure.
Well it must be true, right? Why else would New Jersey have a law that constitutes more than four women living together under the same lease as a brothel?
According to Etta Kimborough, acting municipal clerk of Ewing Township, this “law” is nothing more than an urban legend.
“It’s a ridiculous idea,” she said. “There is no sexist mentality behind it.”
Kimborough said that it makes financial sense for any group of people, men, women or mixed, to have control over their economic affairs. It makes them responsible for their own leases by not unfairly tying them to their landlord or other renters. The motivation is to try to promote mature and conscientious behavior in tenants by treating them as individual adults.
“We are trying to say that college students are no different from any other adults acting responsibly,” Kimborough said. “It would be easier for them to enter into financially ugly situations, where they are responsible for their housemate’s rent as well as their own if they all signed the same lease. Any sensible adult would demand individual control, so we feel students should have the same rights.”
However, the myth continues, and most people have at least heard of it, even if they don’t believe that was the reason behind their renting agreements. Since most boarders are never told why they are asked to sign separately, the legend continues to be kept alive by people who know no other explanation.
Most women have the experience of signing separate leases. Such was the case of Maria Nuori, junior nursing major, who moved off-campus this year with seven of her friends. Her landlord never told Nuori the reason why each of the tenants had to sign a separate lease. Since it does not affect her daily life, Nuori does not have any problem with it, though she was never informed of the rationale behind signing separate leases.
Juniors Julia Dancik and Maria DeFillipo, business management and early education majors respectively, live in a house of nine girls had a similar experience. They too were unaware of the reason for having to sign separately, but are also indifferent, because it does not cause any inconvenience for them now.
Some cases lend themselves more readily to misinterpretation, such as that of Bettina Lefonto, junior elementary education and psychology major. She had to take an extra step to make sure her house wouldn’t be construed as “a house of ill repute”.
She is one of 10 housemates who signed separate leases. However, her landlord took the locks off their doors as well.
“I don’t really mind, since we wouldn’t have used locks anyway,” she explained, but there are large unsightly gray patches on their doors where locks used to be.
Pennsylvania has similar laws, requiring renters to sign separate leases. In a state notorious for its strict Blue Laws, the rumor that girls are forced into this arrangement to avoid being classified as a bordello is alive and well there, too.
However, Ewing Township insists that there is no sexist or antiquated motivation behind students of either gender signing separate leases. Kimborough is committed to helping students make financially wise decisions and hopes that the urban legend will one day be dispelled.
As for now, women from the College who chose to live in Ewing will have to adjust their leases accordingly, for whatever reason.