Are Co-Ed Dorms a Good Idea?

Filed under: In The News, Teen Culture

college students

Boys and girls living together! Oh my! Photo: sxc.hu

When classes begin at the University of Chicago next semester, the school will take a giant step forward in shedding its ultra-conservative image. For the first time in its 117-year history, the private university will begin allowing undergraduate boys and girls to live together in co-ed dorm rooms.

In the past, the school had a few co-ed floors and bathrooms, but members of the opposite sex were prohibited from rooming together. But when advocates for trans-gender students requested gender-neutral housing in order to accommodate those who feel uncomfortable rooming with members of the same sex, the school began debating their long-standing policy of keeping the boys and girls separate.

After a successful pilot program last semester, the new policy was given the go-ahead and will apply to everyone except freshmen, who will still be assigned same-sex roommates.

"People can really seek out the living arrangements that make them feel the most comfortable,'' says former student government president Matthew Kennedy.

So far, 50 students have signed up to take advantage of the new policy, including 19-year-old Lauren Danzig. She has a boyfriend on campus, but has chosen to bunk with a different boy -- her best friend Charlie Barlow. "I tend to get along better with guys,'' she says.

Clearly the new policy wasn't designed specifically to make it easy for romantic partners to shack up, but it also doesn't prohibit them from doing so. Danzig chose not to live with her boyfriend, but would your child?

As a parent, how would you feel about your college student sharing space with the opposite sex? Does co-ed rooming promote community, or set kids up for disaster?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.