Growing trend of coed rooming not expected on campus

Some of the top universities in the nation, including Harvard, Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan are allowing students of the opposite sex to live together. But, according to a TCU administrator, that’s not in TCU’s future.A new trend in residence halls across the nation is allowing students of the opposite sex to live together, according to an article from The Christian Science Monitor published in 2006.

The number of universities permitting coed roommates is small, but it’s growing, said Jeffrey Chang, associate director of The National Student Genderblind Campaign, a grassroots effort to achieve gender-neutral collegiate policies.

Craig Allen, director of Residential Services for TCU, said allowing coed roommates isn’t in the university’s foreseeable plans.

“This trend isn’t consistent with the values and what’s going on at TCU,” Allen said. “We’re focusing the residential program on Living Learning Communities right now.”

The Living Learning Communities will allow students with similar interests to live near one another in the residence halls, Allen said. The program will be implemented in the new halls this fall and in spring 2008.

Allen said the genders will be arranged by floors and wings in the coed residences. Colby and Sherley halls will remain all female, and, after some dorms are renovated, there will be all-male halls again, too, he said.

There are about two dozen colleges and universities across the United States that allow coed roommates, Chang said. The list also includes the University of California-Riverside and Chang’s school, Clark University, located in Massachusetts.

Chang said no Texas universities allow coed roommates.

“In the ’60s and ’70s, universities started to allow coed buildings,” Chang said. “Then, in the ’80s and ’90s, many more schools allowed coed suites and apartments. It is the next step in the evolution of coed housing.”

The coed living arrangements are optional, not randomly assigned, The Monitor article said. Most of these gender-neutral rooms contain siblings or close, platonic friends.

Chang is an advocate of gender-neutral living arrangements. He said that allowing the option of coed roommates provides students with the opportunity to live in a more comfortable environment because they will be able to live with people they think they’re most compatible with.

TCU freshman premajor Leslie Bryant said she’s in favor of coed roommates because she thinks fewer issues would arise if she lived with a male.

“When girls share a room for too long, arguments can break out,” Bryant said. “I think living with a guy would be more relaxed, and I wouldn’t have to worry about him taking my clothes out of my closet.”

If given the opportunity to choose between living with a good female or male friend, Bryant said she’d prefer to live with her male friend.

One of the concerns raised about the issue of coed roommates is that Christian schools worry about premarital sex becoming an issue between male and female roommates.

But Chang doesn’t see it that way.

“It’s an outdated notion that just because a man and a woman share a living space together it means their relationship will turn sexual,” Chang said.

“A Room for Jack and Jill,” published on on Dec. 28, 2006, stated that a survey conducted at Washington University in St. Louis, found that 67 percent of the students who responded were in favor of mixed-gender housing, 22 percent were neutral and 11 percent were opposed.

The article said Washington University plans to make a formal proposal for gender-neutral housing soon.

Chang said the future looks promising for the possibility of more public and private universities allowing coed roommates. While a majority of schools won’t allow it, he thinks the trend will become more common.