Few juniors plan to live co-ed

Nava Rafati ’11 and Brian Douglass ’11 are considering living together next year, following a new policy allowing mixed-gender housing for seniors. But most juniors interviewed said the change won’t affect their housing plans.
Nava Rafati ’11 and Brian Douglass ’11 are considering living together next year, following a new policy allowing mixed-gender housing for seniors. But most juniors interviewed said the change won’t affect their housing plans. Photo by Greta Stetson.

While juniors interviewed largely supported the new policy allowing them to live in mixed-gender suites next year, most said they would not take advantage of it.

Twenty of 22 rising seniors interviewed Monday said they were not considering living in a mixed-gender suite next year. Still, a majority of students interviewed said they were happy that a pilot program for gender-neutral housing — which Yale College Dean Mary Miller and Council of Masters Chair Jonathan Holloway announced in an e-mail to students Sunday — will be adopted.

Dean of Physical Resources and Planning John Meeske, who Miller asked to evaluate the current housing policy at Yale with a task force this year, said opening up gender-neutral housing to seniors is an important step forward and believes the new program will not be problematic next year.

“I think it’s a pretty simple system,” he said, adding that mixed-gender housing groups will navigate the housing draw, in which there is always a possibility that students will not get their first choice configuration, in the same way that single-sex groups do. “That’s really just identical to the way it works now.”

But Holloway said that the administration was worried about logistics when first approaching the possibility of adopting a gender-neutral housing program last year. The Council of Masters endorsed a mixed-gender scheme that included seniors and juniors last February, but Miller and then-Council of Masters Chair Judith Krauss announced in March 2009 that the administration would postpone a decision until further studies could be done to address these logistical concerns; Meeske and Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry were appointed to a task force to review gender-neutral housing policies at peer institutions, for example.

Holloway noted that Yale students have already faced some gender-neutral living situations even before this policy.

“We have the ironic position of already having gender neutral bathrooms,” Holloway said in an interview Sunday evening, adding that administrators took the maturity of students into account when making this decision. “It was always a question of both philosophy and pragmatics.”

Of the 22 juniors interviewed for this article, none were opposed to the new program, though only two students said they were considering living with the opposite gender next year.

“I’m considering it because a lot my friends are girls,” Endre Hudy ’11 said.

Students agreed that the change would not affect too many people. Yoshi Shapiro ’11, former Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cooperative coordinator, said that while it is an important change for a certain group of people, namely sexual minorities uncomfortable living with a certain gender, she believes the Yale community will look back on the decision and wonder why this was “such a big deal.”

“It’s just going to sort of pass with a whisper,” she said. “But it will mean the world to those who are most closely affected.”

Of the 22 juniors interviewed, six said that they did not have an opinion or did not care about the mixed-gender housing decision.

Baobao Zhang contributed reporting.


  • 1Y2

    Nava & BD are the best!

  • Unscientific

    The claim that the YDN makes in the headline is not at all supported by the informal poll conducted for the actual article. An interview of a (probably not completely random) sample of 22 students should not count as reporting.

    The statement will probably end up being true; I don’t expect a large number of rising seniors to take advantage of the changes either. But for the YDN to publish that kind of conclusion with no real basis is irresponsible journalism.

  • really?

    big surprise that you only interviewed 22 students. too bad, though–the headline made it sound like you did some actual reporting.

    ydn, you need to stop trying to create news with silly headlines and blanket statements (“hookup culture,” anyone?) based on poorly sampled surveys. you interviewed less than 3% of the junior class.

  • rte34

    So what happens when boyfriend and girlfriend have a breakup (or worse, and ugly one)? Are they forced to continue to live together. That’s an ugly situation. If not, then how do the logistics work? She has to find a free room somewhere, or an apartment? He has to do the same?
    Yeah I know single sex friends can have a falling out too, but we all know its not the same…

  • FailBoat

    Will Yale students who have been previously excommed for sexual assault (according to Alice Baumgartner’s piece in this very publication, they do exist) be allowed to live with members of the opposite sex?

  • Y12

    I don’t think there are Yale students dumb enough to decide to live with a significant other after first considering the consequences.

  • 10

    re: rte34

    Housing is hardly the only domain in which adults are allowed to make dumb decisions. In addition, this problem already exists for same sex couples.

  • ’11

    @4 – the email sent out had an explicit warning that couples living together is a terrible idea. If you make that bad choice, you live with the consequences. People make bad housing choices every year.

    @5 – i think this is a good point, but it’s worth noting that there are lots of reasons why nobody would want to live with someone in a suite (violent behavior, serious alcoholism, stealing, whatnot). Usually deans find accommodations for these students, like in stand alone singles. I imagine the same would apply for a student with a history of sexual assault that nobody wanted to live with.

  • stiles ’10

    holloway is wrong when he says that all bathrooms are gender-neutral. all the bathrooms in stiles are single-sex except for one in the designated co-ed hallway (which we’ve had for years). i know a lot of other colleges have single sex bathrooms as well. is it going to stay that way when the rooming goes co-ed? i certainly hope so. that was my only qualm about genderneutral housing anyways. i dont want to share my bathroom with guys!