College Dorms Should Just Take Gender Out Of The EquationS

The University of Oklahoma's first-ever coed floor brings up an important question about college students' living space: should gender-segregated housing be a thing of the past?

Writes Mary Stanfield in the Oklahoma Daily, "Male and female students began living in separate suites on a co-ed, upperclassman floor in campus housing this year. It has only been a week, but so far there doesn't seem to be a rampant orgy problem." However, she notes that the coed floor doesn't "contribute anything to solving the need for gender-blind housing." Students are still gender-segregated within their suites, meaning that those "who do not fit easily, or safely, within the gender-based housing assignment system" are out of luck. So should this system be jettisoned entirely?

OU's a little behind the curve — many schools have had coed floors for years. At my alma mater, the four different coed floors I lived on generated a disappointing total of zero orgies (or maybe I just wasn't invited). UPenn, Brown, and Stanford all allow coed doubles, with several other universities considering such a program. And Wesleyan has allowed students of different genders to room together since 1995. OU President David Boren said on the issue, "To be honest with you we live in the state of Oklahoma, our values are not necessarily the same elsewhere" — but a March editorial in the OU Daily argued, "Instead of gender-segregated housing we should have co-ed and gender-neutral housing," and maybe it's time for Oklahoma's values to catch up.

Gender-segregated housing should still be an option for students who prefer a single-gender environment. But increasingly, colleges seem to be learning that not all students identify with one gender, and even for those who do, the assumption that single-gender housing is always more comfortable is pretty heteronormative. All college students deserve access to gender-neutral housing — they're sophisticated enough that they don't need to be systematically kept away from an entire gender for fear that they might bone. And if they really want to have an orgy, a little thing like gender-segregated housing probably isn't going to stop them.

Column: Gender-Blind Housing Must Be An Option [OU Daily]

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