More colleges are letting men and women share dorm rooms, but no one expects this will become the norm. College administrators are still afraid letting students live together in sin (and maybe even have sex) will anger parents and donors.
The L.A. Times reports that about 50 colleges in the U.S., including UC Riverside, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Cornell, Dartmouth, Sarah Lawrence, Haverford, Wesleyan and the University of Michigan, have started letting men and women room together. The movement started in response to gay, bisexual and transgender students saying they'd be more comfortable living with someone of the opposite sex, and some of these schools still restrict the option to "certain floors or to residence halls with gay themes." Gay themes? Yes, obviously the best way to make these students feel comfortable is to single them out and isolate them from the rest of the student population!
The justification that most schools give for not allowing men and women be roommates is that it causes too much trouble for the Housing Office when the torrid romances — which are clearly guaranteed in these situations — come to their inevitable end. Students of all sexual orientations are usually discouraged from living with each other for this reason, but there's nothing really stopping same-sex couples from being roommates. One could argue that allowing students to select roommates of different genders would actually reduce housing conflicts; fewer students would be exiled from their own rooms when their roommate is their significant other.
It's unlikely colleges will revise their housing policies anytime soon because there aren't many male and female students clamoring for the right to live together on campus. The National Student Genderblind Campaign encourages colleges to allow gender-mixed rooms, but co-founder Jeffrey Chang estimates only 1% to 3% of students on campuses where the option exists choose to live with someone of the opposite sex.
Certainly college officials have the right to make whatever ridiculous housing rules they want (remember, these are residences where halogen lamps and candles are considered contraband). Nevertheless, it seems odd that most administrators don't share Chang's view that, "College students are adults... They have every single right to choose the person they feel most comfortable living with." While a 21-year-old woman can pay her own tuition and rack up $80,000 worth of debt, she can't choose to live with a male friend because they could sleep together and someone else's mom may think it's tawdry.
Mixed-Gender Dorm Rooms Are Gaining Acceptance [L.A. Times]
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