Co-ed dorms: A new way to live on campus?
Posted March 09, 2007

Cars lining up in the parking lot, parents lugging boxes up flights of stairs and resident assistants passing out keys to the incoming new breed of dormers; this madness describes move in day at college campuses across the country. Moving into dorms isn’t a revolutionary process, but roommate situations are making waves across the country.

Colorado College, the University of Pennsylvania and our neighbor UC Riverside are allowing men and women to live together in the same room in a policy known as gender-neutral housing, according to an article in the Feb. 26 issue of People Magazine. The Ivy League powerhouse Harvard is also considering adopting gender-neutral housing.

The students at the University of La Verne who were polled on the issue of allowing co-ed roommates in the dorms were split half and half. Sixty percent of the women polled were against co-ed living arrangements, while 60 percent of the men polled felt differently.

“Since we are in college we are mature enough to make our own decisions,” said Alex Lester, a junior political philosophy major who lives on campus.

It is undeniable that when students come to college and choose to live on campus they assume a different sense of responsibility. The choice of living in a co-ed room is not a simple choice because it brings up other concerns such as relationships.

“If you are a girl and can handle living with a guy why not?” said Ashley Joseph, a junior psychology major who also lives on campus. “You are just living together, not sleeping together. But the situation changes if you are in a sexual relationship together.”

Gender-neutral housing does not limit men and women who are in a relationship. Most of the students polled felt that allowing co-ed roommates, more specifically those in relationships, was opening a can of worms.

“Some people might take advantage of it and go relationship status with it and move in with their boyfriend or girlfriend and that might not be a step they are ready for,” said Matt White, a sophomore public administration major who works in the housing office as a community assistant. “Then it goes from a bad relationship to bad roommate and you don’t have anywhere to go.”

Students anticipated a lot of room changes at universities where they allow gender neutral housing. University of Pennsylvania has predicted these dramatic dilemmas that come with relationships and rooming together.

The agreement on University of Pennsylvania’s website states that if a roommate moves out the remaining roommate is responsible to find a new roommate within no more than a week.

Trial runs for boyfriends and girlfriends are very popular because it comes with no responsibility. But that trial run can come at a price if the boyfriend or girlfriend moves out, leaving the remaining roommate to foot the bill.

Universities often want to be looked at as being progressive and making revolutionary changes, especially when it comes to equality. One of the prominent reasons gender-neutral housing came about was for transgender students who do not feel comfortable identifying themselves as either female or male.

“It would be a fair opportunity if they aren’t comfortable, because sexual orientation is overlooked with the dorm situation and giving the option of co-ed roommates makes things more equal,” Shawna Leppert a graduate student in the Psy.D. program at the University of La Verne said.

The burning question is would co-ed roommates ever be considered an option at the University of La Verne.

“Having co-ed living arrangements really depends on the philosophy of the institution,” said Eugene Shang, associate director of housing. “If the institution is not for it then the housing department wouldn’t implement it. If the institution says we are okay with it then that is something the housing department could look it into it.”

For those who are jumping for joy do not get too excited; the University of La Verne is historically a Brethren College. Put two and two together and the philosophy of the institution probably does not match that of University of Pennsylvania.

Women roommates argue over who borrowed their favorite dress, men argue over who lost the television remote and men and women argue over who produces the most mess. It is important to note that there will always be issues and problems with roommates regardless of their gender.

Michelle Ajemian can be reached at majemian@ulv.edu.

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