When I went off to college some 18 years past, I knew that the dorm hall was going to be co-ed. I didn’t know that the bathroom would be.
This was quite a shock.
But I got used to it. To this day I’m not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing that I got used to it, but I did. And people will get used to same-sex dorm rooms, too.
Although the number of participants remains small, gender-neutral housing has gained attention as the final step in the integration of student housing.
In the 1970s, many U.S. colleges moved from having only single-sex dormitories to providing coed residence halls, with male and female students typically housed on alternating floors or wings. Then came coed hallways and bathrooms, further shocking traditionalists. Now, some colleges allow undergraduates of opposite sexes to share a room.
Pitzer, which began its program in the fall of 2008, is among about 50 U.S. schools with the housing choice, according to Jeffrey Chang, who co-founded the National Student Genderblind Campaign in 2006 to encourage gender-mixed rooms. Participating schools include UC Riverside, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Cornell, Dartmouth, Sarah Lawrence, Haverford, Wesleyan and the University of Michigan.
Frankly, I think more choice is probably a good thing. But more choice means more choice — I rather think that schools should be hesitant to do away with traditional sex-segregated halls. To the extent that gender-neutral housing might become the new default and could actually be a move in what often seems to be a ceaseless argument for the absolute fungibility of the sexes, I think I would object. But I’m not sure were anywhere near that point yet.