Mixed gender college housing is here. About time?

My, how times have changed. When I went to college, men & women were in separate dorms, men were not allowed above the first floor of women’s buildings, and women were not allowed outside of their own dorm after 10:30PM on weekdays.

Now at least one school (Rutgers) is experimenting with gender-neutral dorms. Only for sophs & higher, and only if all parties consent, which doesn’t seem to be a major hurdle. If you don’t like it, don’t participate.

It reminds me of The Harrad Experiment, by Robert Rimmer, (the book, not the movie); a small fictional college where students were initially placed 2 to a dorm room. They were free to cohabit or not, as long as it was consensual, and they could change roommates anytime (to any sex) after a probationary period. The intention was to reduce sexual hangups and promote healthy development and lifestyles. Sounded like a good idea to me, and a lot better than sneaking around to find dark spots at night and using the back seats of cars.

Think this will work?


I know a lot of old(er) people who were shocked –shocked!– that my dorm not only had guys and dolls in the same building, but on the same floor! “But, but, but… communal showers! Does that mean boys see you in your robe in the hallways?” Yes, so what? Hell, friends of mine less fortunate than I who attended college across the Bay had dorms with unisex bathrooms. BFD. I would want a same-sex roommate*, but this isn’t being forced on anyone, so those who are more open than I can have at it, while the prudes can remain as they are.
*unless the male roommate were gay, but I don’t suspect you get to choose the sexual orientation of the roommate, and the ability to do so would likely cause more harm than good. So for all practical purposes, I would prefer a dame.

My freshman dorm was all double rooms with either 2 guys or 2 girls, but the floors were all coed and not segregated by any fashion. There were 3 large bathrooms: one guys, one girls, and one coed. I used the coed bathroom for peeing (because it was closer) but not for anything else.

The common trend in dorm building right now is to divide floors in to suites of rooms with 4-5 people each (divided in to some combination of singles, doubles, and triples) and to have each suite be one sex. Floors are coed in all dorms at my university, with basically one exception (one women’s only dorm).

My college dorm (I lived there from 2003-2005) was relatively prudish, I thought. We had gender-separated wings. My dorm had two wings and one was all male, the other all female. We also had some all-male and all-female dorms (I never wanted to live in one of those). RAs walked the halls and if an unaccompanied person of the wrong gender was seen wandering the halls, they were immediately escorted out of the building.

I think it’s a nice idea to offer a couple gender-separated buildings if the student wants that type of environment (for religious reasons or personal preference); however, it shouldn’t be forced. They’re nearly all legal adults. It’s silly to treat college students like Daycare Part II.

Especially that part about “not being allowed out after 1030”?? What the hell? They couldn’t spend the night at a friend’s apartment if they wanted to?

Had this in the early 80’s in NZ when I went to university first time around, is this seriously a new thing in the US?

Rooms were one per person though.


Well, that’s an important detail.

My college had a mix - all-men’s dorms, all-women’s dorms, and mixed dorms with genders only separated by wing, and a common lobby between them, no actual barriers or anything.

My dorm was mixed-gender, but then this was NYU - there were so many gay students that it was almost silly even to bother with gender segregation. I knew of more than one pair of male roommates who ended up in romantic relationships with each other.

I kid you not. Women’s dorms had a 10:30PM curfew Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Wednesday it was 11:30PM (ostensibly to allow late library studying), and I’m not sure about Friday or Saturday – it might have been later.

The doors were locked at those hours, so if you came in late, you had to ring a very loud bell and summon the housefrau, so it was pretty obvious.

If you wanted to stay overnight at a friend’s, you had to get special permission – of what kind, I don’t know. I personally wasn’t subjected to any of these indignities, being of the sex that allowed me to ride my bike to the donut shop at 3AM whenever I wanted, and I often did. We had no locks, curfews or women in our dorms.

Hell, I graduated college in this millennium, and I’ve heard stories of curfews and signing in at the front desk after hours, etc. All seems crazy to me, and like archaic bullshit, but now that I think of it, my sister, who is four years older than I, had to deal with this shit. But I went to school in a very liberal area of California, and she went to school in Georgia, an HBCU, at that. Might have had something to do with it.

The Harrad Experiment was touted as a titillating tome when it came out, and the movie exploited it extensively, but the concept seemed to be reasonable. In the story, one of the few forced things was a daily, all-nude coed gym class. The overall idea was to remove unhealthy, repressed curiosity and replace it with healthy ogling, I guess.

The book had some roommates falling in love, some splitting up and changing “partners”, and some deciding that they needed to have same-sex roommates (not gay) in order to not be distracted from their studies. Makes sense to leave it to a personal decision.

An interesting contrast was drawn when groups of Harrad students joined groups from other nearby colleges with “normal” environments for spring flings or non-curricular frivolities. The others seemed to be relatively maladjusted when it came to sex, but of course it was all fiction.

I don’t see why not, considering it’s hardly the first school in the US to allow opposite-sex roommates.

Is the big deal that it’s the same room? Because having mixed suites but non mixed rooms is very common. The school I went to was all female but part of a great university which included schools that were coed. Some people would sign up to be part of a suite with a same gender roommate and then switch. (For example, two girls would, on paper, be in one room and in the same suite, on paper, their two boyfriends would be in another room. But in actuality, each girl would be with her boyfriend.) I also know one girl who switched it so she was living with a guy who was gay. So even in places where it shouldn’t happen it does.

I went to Tulane in New Orleans where a special form of social liberalism has ruled for a long time. We had mixed sex dorms in the early 1990’s but not mixed sex rooms although you could hardly tell sometimes. People slept wherever they wanted and did what they wanted in front of anyone. We didn’t have curfews or rules about who could stay where. The communal bathrooms were technically segregated but we often used whichever ones were closest even for showers. I always told my roommates that I had no problem with what they did and with who but I needed my sleep and I am a sound sleeper or can pretend like it so they could do whatever they wanted with me 6 feet away and I would pretend like I never even heard a thing and probably didn’t most of the time.

It really isn’t as exiting as it sounds. You can catch a peek if you want but the majority of people aren’t worth the trouble it takes to bat an eye. Some Boston clubs have unisex bathrooms. Same thing. You get used to it really quickly even when people are all pimped, whored, and liquored up.

You’re missing the point - this is mixed-gender rooms. It is standard in the US to have double rooms (singles are usually available, but they cost more and might only be open to upper class folk). Mixed gender dorms are common.

But mixed-gender rooms in university housing is pretty unusual.

I went to a really liberal university and a lot of students (including me for one year) lived in on-campus apartments. They could be mixed-gender, but I don’t think you could have a roommate of the same gender. At least officially.

Unisex dorms are not new in the US (in the mid-to-late 90s I lived in one of the last two single sex dorms at my university and now it allows boys too). Unisex dorm rooms, on the other hand, are new.

I am not sure I am quite getting this? Is it that they are allowing heterosexual couples who are already in a sexual/romantic relationship to share a room if they want to? That does not seem too radical: just like life on the outside really. Or are random pairs of opposite sex strangers going to be assigned rooms together? That does sound freaky, and I do not think I, as a male, would be (or would have been: I’m to old for it to be relevant now) comfortable sharing a bedroom with some random female, even (or perhaps especially) if she turned out to be hot. I should think most young women would be even less comfortable with any such arrangement.

UCLA was like mixed floors back in the 80s and presumably the 70s before that. Worked out fine. And by fine I mean that those who wanted to screw like bunnies did and those who didn’t ignored it.

Yeah, mixed gender is allowed, but perhaps it means you have pre-selected your roommate. Even in this day and age it seems like it could get pretty weird if you are strangers. I mean, me and my same sex roommate were both complete weirdos and it would have gotten way weirder with mixed gender. First year at college away from home is already a mind blowing change even without the additional stress. Hot girl with neckbeard dude could be a tough road to travel.

In 1976 we had coed floors but segregated bathrooms. I’m pretty sure Stanford of that era had some coed bathrooms.

If, by “new” you mean “been around for a decade, and ten or so other schools already have them.”

njtt, they aren’t assigned. You pick your roommate. Generally people in relationships are discouraged from rooming together. The option for having these housing arrangements tends to be pushed by the queer community.

Back when my college started allowing this ~10 years ago, the only guy/girl roommate pairings were for 2nd-years, since 1st years were assigned and 3-4th years mostly had singles.

We also had a few coed bathrooms. No big deal. The toilets and showers were in stalls. I think folks would have been a little less amenable to open-room coed showers.

Yes, mixed gender at McGill but our dorm situation was different in that no one (as far as I know) has to share a room. The uppermost dorms are all mixed gender floors but single rooms (it’s like a cell, but it’s all yours), Bishop Mountain Hall they share a suite but not their bedrooms and then the off-campus apartment dorms also allow people to have their own rooms.

Man, can I saw how happy I am that I never had to have a college roommate? Floormates were more than enough.