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Sexiles, coed dorm rooms & housing trends

Jenna Johnson

It seems like college housing departments are talking a lot about sex lately: "Gender-neutral" dorms are all the rage, the number of single-sex dorms is dwindling and sexiles everywhere continue to suffer.

Some Google News headlines that caught my eye:

"Behind closed doors: Students struggle with sexiling as officials try to reach out"
The Diamondback, the student newspaper at the University of Maryland, shares the story of a student who was "sexiled" last semester: She returned home from a concert to find a Post-it note on her door, warning her not to enter. While the university has some policies in place to help roommates navigate awkward situations such as that one, most students choose not to use them... because that would be more awkward.

"College campuses embrace coed dorm rooms"
The Philadelphia Inquirer posted a story yesterday about coed dorm rooms, which are offered at more than 50 colleges. Starting this fall, at least 17 more campuses (including Princeton, Yale and the University of Vermont) will try it, too. The topic is commonly brought up on campus tours.

While gender-neutral housing often starts as a GLBT issue, the paper reports that "removing gender restrictions in dorm rooms has also found wide appeal among heterosexual students, who are thinking about gender relations - and friendship - in new ways."

And some headlines from the archives:

"Shall Boys Live with Girls? Gender-Neutral Housing and the Evolution of Dorm Living"
Earlier this year Politics Daily published a column by a student at Bowdoin College in Maine, who wrote about how offering gender-neutral rooms should not be such a bureaucratic, political process. "It's a natural thing to live with those with whom you feel most comfortable - those with whom you identify and relate - and, in most cases, university housing systems respect that," wrote Willy Hameline.

"Gender-neutral housing attracts 82 students"
The Daily Orange, the student newspaper at Syracuse University, has been reporting on the housing selection process for this fall -- the first time students can opt to live with anyone they want, regardless of gender. The housing director said 82 students signed up, which wasn't above or below expectations. She also told the paper that students aged 18 to 24 are four times more likely than those over 55 to have a best friend of the opposite gender.

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By Jenna Johnson  |  May 19, 2010; 1:10 PM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags: Bowdoin, Princeton, Syracuse University, University of Maryland, Yale  
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"It's a natural thing to live with those with whom you feel most comfortable - those with whom you identify and relate - and, in most cases, university housing systems respect that," wrote Willy Hameline.

Didn't we used to call that discrimination?

Education is now about making students comfortable? I guess I was bitterly clinging to the quaint notion that education should do precisely the opposite.

Or I guess my real mistake is imagining that universities even pretend to concern themselves with education anymore. They're really just camps to indoctrinate youth in the fashions, prejudices and ideologies of the idiotic and the depraved.

Posted by: thebump | May 20, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

thebump- having co-ed dorm rooms is not a giant orgy. I am female and lived inone at college. There were 4 one bed rooms and we shared the rest of the living spaces, kitchen, family room, and two bathrooms. I had two male room mates along with another female. Co-ed rooms do not always mean the old fashion set of bunk beds in a single room

Posted by: schnauzer21 | May 20, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

By gender do they really mean sex? It would be nice if kollage taught the students (and reporters) the difference between sex and gender. It might come in handy one day.

Guy (that is a person of the male sex :)) at work said that dorm room allocation and rules were a huge topic when he was taking his daughter (that is a female offspring) on tours of colleges. He did not believe the stories I had told from twenty years ago and insisted all rooms were single-sex and most floors were single-sex.

For folks who "sexile," don't they know that is what the library is for?

Posted by: NUMBerger17 | May 20, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

For folks who "sexile," don't they know that is what the library is for?

Posted by: NUMBerger17
One problem with that thinking is when the library is close for the night especially at 2AM. What happens?

Fifteen years ago I too lived in one of the coed dorms but the way it was set up was the they are not allowed in the opposite sex side of the dorm and anyone found in it were written up for it and fined and possibly banished for violating university rule. On the other hand, the freshman dorms were gender neutral and the opposite sexes share the same floor but different room and even share the same bathroom as I was told by one of the girls.

Posted by: beeker25 | May 20, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Thebump - wow ... little bitter? I think someone is just jealous that he .. or she .. OK, I'll go with "it" ... didn't have a shot as an opposite sex roomie in college ... maybe it would have gotten a little sumthin sumthin instead of spending Saturday nights at home readin' Mein Kampf.

As for "gender neutral" - as long as those who volunteer for it understand and are supportive of the reasons behind the option, I think it's fine. I lived in a co-ed dorm with single sex rooms (but co-ed floors) and I felt I learned a lot about living with and understanding both sexes much better - I had only grown up with a younger brother. One thing I tell my students (I teach HS) is that I learned more living in dorms with people of differents genders, religions, home lifes, ideologies, and races than I did in any single college classroom. But I think whether you choose to live in a single-sex, co-ed, or gender neutral dorm all depends on the comfort level of the student.
As for the "sexile" thing ... it's also another reason to make good friends on your dorm .. never know when you may need to crash on someone's futon on Friday night.

Posted by: fizics95 | May 20, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Sexiling is nothing new, though the name is. Apparently the classic signal was putting a necktie on the door, but I understand that neckties are rare in college dorms these days. Solution: roommate goes to the library or crashes with a friend. If the matter gets to be a problem, you bring it to the attention of the RA. Same thing as people have been doing since, well, for a lot longer than the term "sexiling" has existed!

Posted by: Nemo24601 | May 20, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

The students have it backwards. The room should belong to the sexiled student during the time of copulation. The sleazy copulating jerks should go to a motel just like their stinking mothers and fathers did.

Posted by: fudador | May 20, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Co-ed dorm rooms that "best friends" can share? Oh, please. The students may have their administrators snowed, but the rest of us have some common sense and know a line of BS when we see it.

Posted by: SilverSpringer1 | May 20, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

To schnauzer21: Four single rooms opening to common areas is a suite, not co-ed rooms, so your experience doesn't prove anything.

Posted by: SilverSpringer1 | May 20, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Those aged 18-20 are also adults and not "kids" or "teens", meaning they shouldn't be called those words. Regardless if university is housing is single-sex or gender neutral, sex can happen in there because they are rooms, meaning they are private than many other places.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | May 20, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

Fornication no matter the age will bring early heartache and long lasting regret. Like getting lung cancer early on from smoking even earlier on.

The woman are the ones that are used as no more than a door stop by the horney guys.--Fools! Fornication is future heartache. You better listen from those who have been there, done that and are scarred for life.

You are free to lose your freedom.

Posted by: conrad031 | May 21, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Unless your roommate kicked you out all night or weekend for the "sexile", well, welcome to college. Part of it is education, part of it is learning how to live with other people who are not your family.

I was assigned a new roommate half-way through my Junior year when my original roommate dropped out. A year behind me, she was a nightmare of a roommate and thought nothing of using and occasionally destroying my stuff (clothes, jewelry, my personal computer, a rarity in the early 90's).

And quite honestly, I'd have been ecstatic if she spared one second of thought for someone other than herself and had put a notification on the door that she was hooking up with someone in the room.

Then again, I'm glad she didn't. She apparently decided that rather than climb to her own bed on the loft my old roommate left behind, my bed on the floor was easier for her hookups. The first time I discovered her (I was never sure she didn't lie about doing it previously), I dragged both of their butts out of my bed, and made her give me the quarters for laundering all my bed linens - including the dryer-intensive comforter and quilted mattress pad. Made her flip the mattress, too.

I walked in on her two other times - at least she learned that lesson and was in her loft. I didn't stick around, but I refused to be embarrassed. She finally learned to hook up other places.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | May 25, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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