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.
College officials say the movement began mainly as a way to accommodate gay, bisexual and transgender students who may feel more comfortable living with a member of the opposite sex. Most schools say they discourage couples from participating, citing emotional and logistical problems of breakups. Officials say most heterosexuals in the programs are platonic friends.
Couples living together without sex? Colleges have always had the mission of preparing students for the world of work. Now it looks like they're trying to prepare them for marriage, too. Ba-da-boom!
I was struck by this quote late in the story: "If we are going into a post-gender world, then the regulation of private behavior is just not practical," he said. A post-gender world? What a boring place that would be.