I was interested and challenged by Isabel Marin’s column raising concerns about gender-neutral housing (“A question of comfort,” Oct. 20). I’m sure these concerns are well-intentioned and carefully considered, but I feel her reasoning was troubling at best, or fallacious and myopic at worst.
Marin begins by positing, “We can agree that Yale should be a safe and comfortable place for its students.” The vast majority of those with whom I discussed this article do agree with her. I do not. Safety is a universal right and one that we should enjoy. But the idea that everyone should be “comfortable” is not one with which I can so readily accede. This unfounded sanctification of comfort is the false premise that makes Marin’s conclusion so specious.
Discomfort is one of Yale’s greatest gifts. It is uncomfortable to confront the reasons behind our faiths and values. But without at least some discomfort, we won’t create understanding.
Marin describes students who feel alienated from friends with different belief systems or who enjoy different activities to argue the need for comfort. She is correct. But the underlying principle is that friendship is exclusionary. The people we hold dear are separate from the people we greet in the dining halls. It is this separation between friend and acquaintance that answers Marin’s question, “How do you turn down an opposite-gendered friend without seeming prudish?” You do so the same way you turn down friends of the same gender during suitemate-picking season — with a kind heart and understanding that there are different levels of friendship.
Lastly, Marin draws a comparison between gender-neutral housing and other “new, politically correct things,” insinuating that gender-neutral housing is an attempt of its proponents to keep Yale ahead of its time. This unjustly presumes that equality can come with a timeline. There is no “right time” or acceptable cultural climate for gender-neutral housing. There is only equality and inequality. It is time for Yale to choose.
The writer is a junior in Saybrook College.