The New York Post reports that Columbia University will, likely this fall, implement a new “gender-neutral” housing policy, meaning that sophomores, juniors, and seniors may select roommates from either gender. Not hallmates or floormates, roommates. Reactions — decidedly mixed — range from “Yay, singles won’t have to put up with their roommates’ sex lives” to “Wait, boys and girls are sharing BATHROOMS?” (Where have these people been?)
From my own four years on that very campus, I can tell you for sure: this is a tempest in an electric tea-kettle. For one thing, there’s no “walk of shame” associated with sleeping in your boyfriend’s dorm room. I mean, I shacked up with Andy C. on the first floor of Ruggles Hall for most of my senior year. I just moved my crap into his place and voila, cozy dorm coupling. My room was used for storage.
In retrospect, that was a hideous idea. I had a great room, Andy was totes codependent, and I ended up pledging a co-ed frat just to get some non-couple time. But whose college experience is a study in good decision-making?
The other truth that’s being ignored here? After freshman year at Columbia, nobody — but nobody — has a roommate to begin with. So the story here isn’t “Yikes! Free love on campus!” It’s pretty much “Gay students don’t have to live with weirded-out homophobes.” (Though maybe also “What happens if you break up by Thanksgiving?”) In any case, it’s nice to see my alma mater tossing passé Puritanism out the ivory tower window.