March 13, 2007

Colleges Implement Co-ed Housing

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As an incoming student at Cornell University, it is time to fill out the housing application. Can you study with music? Are you an early riser? Do you go to bed late? Would you prefer a single or a double? Do you want to live with a male or a female? This last question may take some by surprise, but it is one that may be seen in the future. The idea of co-ed living arrangements has become an increasingly discussed topic among many universities, some of which have already begun to take steps in such a direction.

Ithaca College implemented a co-ed housing policy that began in the fall of 2002 with the construction of the Circle Apartments.

According to Jen Richardson, Ithaca College’s coordinator of housing services, men and women are allowed to live together in suite-style housing, “but we only allow a single sex within each individual room.”

Ithaca College is in the process of putting together a gender blind housing policy in which students of opposite sex would be allowed to live together within a double room, but Richardson said that “the proposal has not yet gone through.”

According to Richardson, the new policy would help accommodate transgender students who may feel less conflicted in terms of their rooming arrangements because they would be able to select the preferred gender of their roommates.

When asked if it were possible for Cornell to offer co-ed housing in the future, Joe Burke, director of new residential programs said, “I wouldn’t rule it out.”

However, it is unlikely that Cornell would suggest that men and women live together without any push from the student body. In order to really consider implementing the co-ed living policy, Burke said, “Students would need to first come forward and say that this is something that they want. If they gave some type of proposal, then we would engage the Hall council and the student assembly in a discussion.”

Some Cornell students have embraced the idea of co-ed housing and believe college students should be able to choose their roommates based on their preferences.

“College students are old enough and mature enough to decide who they want to live with. If you’re a girl with a lot of guy friends, it should be your choice whether or not you want to live with them,” said Lauren Goldberg ’10.

Other students feel mixed gender roommates are unnecessary at Cornell.

Adam Kressel ’09 likes the idea of suite-style coed housing but said, “Mixing genders within rooms might be taking it a little too far,”said Kressel. “If students of the opposite sex really want to room together, there are plenty of opportunities to do so in off-campus housing.”

Co-ed housing might seem like a far-fetched idea to some, but so was the idea of co-ed floors when men and women lived completely separated.

According to Burke, “Now there are living arrangements where men and women are interspersed. Going from how it is now, co-ed housing would probably not be as big of a leap as were the other transitions.”

Currently, over 20 colleges and universities throughout the country offer some form of gender-neutral housing, including Dartmouth and Harvard.