Friday, March 27, 2009

Colleges should allow for Genderblind Housing

Allow 8 seconds for video to show after pressing play

Due to this video, and an article i read on Genderblind Housing in the Daily Pensylvanian Newspaper, I am addressing the issue of whether colleges should allow students to room with whomever they choose, gender being a non-issue. It has always been the policy of colleges to forbid a male and a female from rooming together, unless the students were married. This point of view is supported by many claims. People feel that allowing a male and a female to room together may increase the amount of rapes on campus. It is no secret that college students drink alcohol and a male is much more likely to rape under the influence. In accordance with this claim, people also feel that co-ed dorm rooms would increase the chances of promiscuity on campus. That is a logical claim since promiscuity is significantly more likely among co-eds than among same gender rooming, unless the roommates were gay. The homosexual roommate issue brings up a valid point for the argument for co-ed housing. If the idea behind making the same gender room together is to reduce promiscuity and sexual tension in the rooms, than it should be the policy for homosexuals to have co-ed rooms. There is obviously no sexual tension between two straight men so logically there is no sexual tension between a gay man and a woman or a gay woman and a man. However this is not the case, since it does not matter if the students are gay or straight, they have to room with the same gender. Seton Hall University is a good example for this kind of housing policy. No only are the opposite sex not allowed to room together, but the opposite sex is not even allowed to stay overnight, visitors of the opposite sex have to be off campus by 12:00am. Most schools at least allow for the opposite gender to sleep over if signed in, but not Seton Hall.
The National Student Genderblind Campaign originated in Yale University and now has members and activists nation wide. This is a movement to call for colleges to allow students to room with whomever they choose, regardless of gender. The movement is spreading, and it is not just the NSGBC who is fighting the issue. There is a lot of support coming from the National Association of Research and Therapy for Homosexuals. The NARTH has joined in the fight due to the extreme call for genderblind housing from Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender students. These students face ridicule and even possible abuse from their same sex room mates, and from the straight roommates perspective, they may feel uncomfortable living with a gay or transgender student. Wesleyan, Swarthmore and Haverford colleges and Columbia University all offer co-ed housing as an option in their schools and it looks like a plethora of other universities are leaning that way. The argument is supported by the claim that whoever a student lives with should be up to the student, not the parents. Parents are against the co-ed housing mainly if they are a parent of a college female student. Most parents do not want their little girl to live with a college male unsupervised. It kind of relates to the idea that if a man has sex with ten women he is considered to be “the man” and if a woman has sex with ten men she is considered to be a slut. The parental worry in co-ed dorms comes mainly from parents of college females.
I feel that genderblind housing should at least be an option at colleges and universities in order to avoid all claims of a heterosexual bias, unfair treatment of gays and transgenders and to give the students one less reason to protest their school policies. The NSGBC found that schools that have genderblind housing as an option rarely have students pick a student of the opposite sex as their roommate. So far, out of the schools that do offer it as a choice, the administrators report that only 2-3% of students choose to live with a student of the opposite sex. With a number so low, there is no harm in giving them the choice. I feel that this country is constantly evolving from historical views into a more modern society. Think about it. 100 years ago women could not vote, 160 years ago slavery was legal, and as little as 55 years ago it was legal to separate black citizens facilities from white citizens facilities and even the schools for their children. As the country evolves, so do it’s beliefs. It is only a matter of time before co-ed housing is an available option at all universities. I feel that it should be an option because all of the opposing reasons have not been shown in the schools that currently have it. Currently there are roughly 91,000-95,000 forcible rapes per year in this country and until that number goes up due to college rapes at the schools that allow co-ed housing, there is no logical argument that increased rape would be a result of co-ed housing. Maybe rape and violence would result in co-ed housing if it was made mandatory and your co-ed roommate was chosen randomly just as the same sex roommates are chosen today, but the policy proposal simply calls for allowing co-ed roommates to be an option, not a necessity. Those that do not want to live with a student of the opposite sex are not forced to like they are forced to live with the same sex in contemporary university policies. I say allow the option and have hundreds of social scientists do research like they love to do to find out if it makes college life for students more pleasant or if it is in fact much more dangerous. Until the latter is proven, the universities should give the students the choice.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great commentary. However, I should clarify that the National Student Genderblind Campaign, as an organization, did not originate at Yale, but instead came about through students at several colleges around the country.

    -Jeff Chang
    National Student Genderblind Campaign