ABC News’ Boston affiliate reported this week that Clark College in Worcester will soon become the 21st nationwide to have co-ed dorm rooms, as if co-ed residence halls hadn’t already done enough to eliminate whatever modesty America’s 19-year-olds possess:
“Having a policy that bans men and women from living together — it’s a double standard because if you think about it, same-sex couples are allowed to live together already,” said [sophomore Jeffrey] Chang.Folks, I support same-sex couples as much as anyone, but they’re 10% of the population at most. Is that a good enough reason to impose a culture of cohabitation on everyone else in the dorm who finds it offensive? I hate this kind of phony “neutrality” because this is a situation where there really is no neutral option. Either the school creates an atmosphere that protects the privacy and psychological vulnerability of young people who don’t want to live in the middle of an orgy, or it does not. Just ask the Yale Five how much that august institution respected their lifestyle.
“I think what it has done instead is to be affirming of different lifestyles and allowing students to have the option to live with someone with whom they will truly be compatible,” said Clark Dean of Students Denise Darrigrand.
UPDATE (12/19): Gender studies prof Hugo Schwyzer has a more sympathetic assessment on his blog that’s worth a read. Says Hugo:
Part of being a young feminist woman or pro-feminist man is learning to live at odds with cultural expectations for femininity and masculinity. While feminism doesn’t have a mandatory dress code, or a stated policy on hair removal, or a blanket prohibition on loving NASCAR or football, there’s little question that in order to live as a feminist, one has to reject certain aspects of a profoundly sexist culture. To a very great extent, particularly for young collegians, most of whom are just finishing adolescence, embracing feminism or pro-feminism is a dramatic rejection of broader cultural norms. To be a pro-feminist man is to choose to “not be one of the guys”; to be a feminist woman is to choose to be publicly and privately critical of sexist expectations for the “fairer sex.” And that kind of rebelliousness means encountering a lot of hostility from one’s own gender.I suppose I’m more cynical in assuming that most of the co-ed dorm proponents simply want to make shacking-up easier. Perhaps my impression of modern college life relies too much on I Am Charlotte Simmons. Real-world input, anyone?
Anecdotally, I hear the same thing from young feminists of both genders: “It’s easier to get along with the opposite sex.” Many of the young folks I work with have spent years being ostracized and judged for failing to adequately live up to the standards for their gender; their same-sex peers have humiliated and hurt them deeply. In their woundedness, it’s not surprising that many of them find other-sex friendships (which presumably are less competitive and judgmental) to be much easier to find and maintain. And the students at NSGC seem to be arguing that students like this should be able to live together as opposite-sex roommates — an attractive option to many young feminists/pro-feminists in particular.