Boys and Girls Mixed? Are Coed Dorm Rooms a Good Idea?


Not stopping at coed floors or even coed bathrooms, some colleges are offering the choice for coed dorm rooms. Though it seems like permission for romantic undergraduate cohabitation, a lot of students see it as a chance to live with their friends who just happen to be of the opposite sex, and some gay students who feel more comfortable rooming with someone of the opposite sex like the option, too.

About two dozen schools — like Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Oberlin College, Clark University, and the California Institute of Technology allow the gender-blind room arrangements. The University of Pennsylvania started offering the option in 2005 and about 120 out of 10,400 students chose the option this year. UC Riverside started the plan at the same time and now has 50 of their 6,000 students in campus housing, with roommates of the opposite sex.

One female student with a male roommate says, "people are shocked to hear that it's happening and even that it's possible [but] once you actually live in it, it doesn't actually turn into a big deal."

One less fancy-free parent says, "When you have a male and female sharing such close quarters, I think it's somewhat delusional to think there won't be sexual tension. Maybe this generation feels more comfortable walking around in their underwear. I'm not sure that's a good thing."

Is it? Is it a sign of progressive ideas about gender — or just asking for trouble? Would you do it?

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