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Opening Arguments

The horrid experiment

Remember "The Harrad Experiment"? Yeah, I once thought it was brilliant, revolutionary, just the antidote for the stodgy sexual mores of my parents' generation. Of course, I was in high school at the time.

Same fantasy world, modern-day version:

Erik Youngdahl and Michelle Garcia share a dorm room at Connecticut's Wesleyan University. But they say there's no funny business going on. Really. They mean it.

They have set up their beds side-by-side like Lucy and Ricky in "I Love Lucy" and avert their eyes when one of them is changing clothes.

"People are shocked to hear that it's happening and even that it's possible," said Youngdahl, a 20-year-old sophomore. But "once you actually live in it, it doesn't actually turn into a big deal."

In the prim 1950s, college dorms were off-limits to members of the opposite sex. Then came the 1970s, when male and female students started crossing paths in coed dormitories. Now, to the astonishment of some baby boomer parents, a growing number of colleges are going even further: coed rooms.

At least two dozen schools, including Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Oberlin College, Clark University and the California Institute of Technology, allow some or all students to share a room with anyone they choose, including someone of the opposite sex. This spring, as students sign up for next year's room, more schools are following suit, including Stanford University.

First, we had "living together" as a trial run of marriage. Now, we'll have living together before, you know, living together. I think it will set interpersonal relationships back decades. Imagine all those college kids, at that vulnerable age, learning what the other sex looks like in the mornings.