Libresco: Trust straight students

Yale just can’t trust straight students. It’s the only plausible explanation for the recent decision to keep gender-neutral housing on hold.

One of the most frequently cited reasons to avoid gender-neutral housing is the possibility that mixed-gender couples will shack up. I leave aside the concerns of long-graduated alumni that this kind of arrangement might allow students to have sexual relations, or, worse, signify Yale’s approval of undergraduate sex. Those alumni haven’t seen the writing on the wall (or in this case, the condoms in the entryway). The real problem Yale wants to head off isn’t sex, it’s the cessation of sex. Yale just doesn’t think it can handle the repercussions of a couple cohabiting, breaking up and having to deal with still living in the same suite for the rest of the year.

But Yale, often dubbed the “gay Ivy,” is presumably already dealing with this issue. There are significant numbers of gay or bisexual students on campus (estimates range from one in eight to one in four undergraduates). These students have already been thrown headlong into the maelstrom of hormones, break-ups and room draw from which Yale is desperately trying to save straight students.

Yale doesn’t keep tabs on students’ sexual orientations, so college deans are clearly unable to check up on students to make sure that same-sex couples are not rooming in the same suites. That leaves two possibilities. Either Yale has a rapid-response team kept on constant alert to deal with the fallout of fallings-out between cohabiting couples or, by some miracle, the issues that inevitably arise are adequately dealt with by the existing counseling structure at Yale, in the same way that any kind of intra-suite problem is addressed.

So if Yale thinks the same solution won’t work for heterosexual couples, one must marvel at how destructive these couples potentially are to the Yale community. Their cohabitation poses such a threat that Yale believes it outweighs the dominant use of gender-neutral housing: the chance for students to live with their closest friends on campus, no matter their gender. Heterosexual couples’ fights are so pernicious that Yale is willing to ignore its own antidiscrimination policy, which states “Yale does not discriminate … on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” Clearly, if we could only weaponize the apocalyptic power of mixed-gender fights, we could retire our nuclear arsenal.

What other explanation is there? That Yale is operating on heteronormative principles that are radically out of touch with reality? That Yale is really unaware that there are over 400 Yale students who openly identify as queer on Facebook? That this problem of cohabitating couples is not new, nor is it intractable? That, for some students, gender-neutral housing is not simply a matter of convenience or romance, but a necessary step to make Yale feel like a home for queer or transgendered students who are just as uncomfortable in their current situation as all students would be if, as some have mischaracterized the gender-neutral policy, Yale forced all students to live in mixed housing?

Nope. Clearly straight students just can’t be trusted to act like grown-ups, the way Yale expects queer students to behave. So I’ll be making sure to run at the first sight of a cohabiting couple, since Yale wouldn’t steer me wrong. What else am I to believe? That the dangers of gender-neutral housing have been radically exaggerated and that every year of delay hurts another class of transgender and queer students? Now you’re talking crazy.

Leah Anthony Libresco is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.


  • TD '11

    I love this. Great job, Leah!

  • Anonymous

    Damn straight!

  • Yale 09

    I do not support the queer agenda at Yale, not do I support gender bending.

    I'm glad to see the administration at least temporarily halt Yale's free fall into the darkness.

  • Anonymous

    This is great!

    (Yale 09 - are you kidding me? See, administration? We do face adversity here!)

  • A quibbler

    I only have one quibble with this thesis, which assumes that straight and queer relationships have the same dangers if we assume the people involved are living closely together. This is not quite true, as biology shows that heterosexual couples have the additional complication of an unwanted pregnancy arising from the heat of passion. Of course, Yale does offer other resources through DUH to address these issues, such as making contraceptives readily available and supplying (God forbid!) Plan B, so Yale would have a harder time justifying the current situation with an appeal to stopping the unnecessary complications of unwanted pregnancy. Also I don't think having housing delineated by sex necessarily stops all cases of unwanted pregnancy, given the fact that people are not confined to their own rooms every night.

    Finally, if we assume that Yale students are competent adults (sometimes an unjustified assumption, I know, but just for the sake of argument), the Yale students themselves should be responsible for their own sexual activity and the consequences thereof. Housing restrictions according to sex should not be necessary then if everyone is responsible for their own actions. So in the ways I just mentioned gender-neutral housing does make sense. But I don't want to oversimplify the issue and claim queer students should advocate gender-neutral housing for the exact same reasons as straight students. There are subtle differences between the two communities which deserve to be said and not glossed over by the queer community.

  • Alcibiades

    Strawman. Strawman.

    Also, extra troll points for using the word "heteronormative" in complete seriousness.

  • Yale '00

    Excellent job, Leah Libresco.

    Yale's illogical policy deserves scorn, and you heap it on, but you do it with class.

  • yaylie

    I have not heard of Yale referred to as the "gay" Ivy, and if I did, I would assume it was a derogatory comment from our buddies up in Cambridge, not something coming from the mouth of another Yalie. Bravo to the administration on the recent decision and not bowing down to the queer/transsexualist lobby.

  • Yale '00 x2

    Terrible job, Leah Libresco.

    Yale's logical policy does not deserve scorn, and yet you heap it on.

  • Yale '12

    @Leah - Great article!
    @8 - Have you been living under a rock? Google the term "gay Ivy." Also, welcome to the intellectual world/college/maturity, where the word "gay" isn't an insult anymore.