Tuesday, May 06, 2008


In the Woodstock era, the advent of coed dorms caused a stir, with Life magazine proclaiming the development "an intimate revolution on campus." Coed floors came along over the next two decades, giving college students immediate proximity to each other. The next step, coed suites and bathrooms, brought the sexes even closer together.

Now, some colleges are crossing the final threshold, allowing men and women to share rooms. At the urging of student activists, more than 30 campuses across the country have adopted what colleges call gender-neutral rooming assignments, almost half of them within the past two years.

Once limited to such socially liberal bastions as Hampshire College, Wesleyan University, and Oberlin College, mixed-gender housing has edged into the mainstream, although only a small fraction of students have taken advantage of the new policies so far. Clark and Dartmouth universities introduced mixed-gender rooms last fall, and Brown and Brandeis announced plans last month to follow suit.

The University of Pennsylvania, Skidmore and Ithaca colleges, and Oregon State University also allow roommates of different genders. Students at New York, Harvard, and Stanford universities, among many others, are calling for gender-blind dormitory rooms.

"It's definitely a growing movement on campuses across the country," said Denise Darrigrand, dean of students at Clark, where about 30 students are living in mixed-gender rooms. "It's a new world, and gender has taken on all kinds of new definitions. It's about being more inclusive, and it's about keeping pace with the times."

Here's the article.

Actually there have been mixed gender dorm rooms for quite a while on most college campuses. They call it "married student housing". The difference between these units and the new co-ed dorm rooms is a ceremony that in many cases is maybe five minutes long...a ceremony that is no longer especially binding because it can be quickly undone through no-fault divorce if the participants so decide.

It seems to me that we are coming more and more often to the place where we are no different than the animal kingdom in this respect. As I watch the stories on Animal Planet, Meerkat Manor and Lemur Kingdom for instance, I can't help but notice similarities between the sexual habits of these creatures and those of humanity. In Lemur Kingdom, the announcer even refers to the Lemur offspring as "son" and "daughter". And so, for me at least, seeing this article about mixed gender dorm rooms is an indication that we are taking yet another step toward the animalization of the human population.

As you think about this, think also of the scenes of predator eating prey that turn up on those programs, and the kind of relativistic acceptance this activity generates. On a program about lions, the stalking and eating of an antelope is viewed beningly. If the program were about the antelope, the viewpoint would change, and the lion would become the evil enemy.

The viewpoint about morality associated with killing in the animal kingdom is fluid. If we have already adopted a fluid viewpoint of sexual morality that is closer to the promisciousness of the animal kingdom than it is to the Victorian Era of humanity, will our viewpoint about killing follow suit?

Playing with these two concepts of sexual morality and the morality of murder, it would seem to me that the survival of the fittest mentality of Austrian Economics might be a shadow lurking in the corner of the mixed gender dorm room.

Ok, now you can call in Mark Shea to tell me how far off the reservation my thinking has strayed!

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