We can agree that Yale should be a safe and comfortable place for its students. Yale has opened her doors to women, racial minorities, those with disabilities and the LGBT community. While, of course, the University must keep working to make these groups feel comfortable here, by and large, it has already accomplished a lot. Today, we have many more applications from women than men, we have a sizeable population of racial minorities, and as Sophia Shapiro ’11 remarked in her column yesterday, “Let’s Make a Change,” we are known as “The Gay Ivy.”
Gender-neutral housing is not the next step in this narrative of integration. Instead, it threatens to reverse integration by further isolating those of traditional social habits.
Already, many accepted students turn Yale down because, compared to many colleges and much of the country, the social scene is filled with scandalous and libertine behavior. Some cannot even imagine being comfortable here, so they choose colleges such as Notre Dame over Yale. Those who choose to come to Yale are, from their very first day, confronted with bags of condoms hanging by the doors of college entryways and an isolating culture.
Students who don’t enjoy drinking, dark and loud parties — in crowded dorms or at Toad’s — or the hook-up culture, quickly realize that making friendships with those who do can be difficult. Friends who party together bond over long nights of partying and awkward experiences. Students who choose to stay in can feel their party-going friends becoming closer and closer while they are left out. Those that aren’t disgusted enough by the party scene at Yale to avoid it resort to tagging along and being the lone sober person, and are often the ones who drag their drunk friends home and clean up their mess. For these students, Yale is an uncomfortable place.
Implementing gender-neutral housing will aggravate this situation. I disagree with Shapiro’s claim that “gender-neutral housing will probably never be so widespread that a majority of suites are coed.” When deciding whom to live with, what reason would one have to turn down friends of the opposite gender? Those who do give reasons are likely to seem prudish and behind the times. Even students who wouldn’t actively seek suitemates of the opposite sex — but wouldn’t particularly mind it — will likely end up having them, since they won’t purposefully go out of their way to choose based on sex. In this way, a majority of the campus will eventually be gender-neutral. Yale will effectively be divided into a “progressive” cohort and “prudish” cohort, making those who find it uncomfortable to live with the opposite gender feel even more different and isolated from the community.
Yale suffers when students are uncomfortable on campus; dorms should not be made gender-neutral.
There was a time when Yale was admonished and called backwards for not implementing speech codes. Back then, they were the new, politically correct things to have, but Yale resisted. Today, the University is proud to have stood against the tide of politically correct change. Sometimes it is better to be the only Ivy never to implement a bad policy. Such a stance should make us proud.
isabel Marin is a sophomore in Trumbull College.