Coed housing, cohabitation, living with the opposite sex — they all mean the same thing, and some Yalies might think we have it now, since every dormitory on campus is technically “coed.”
But the Yale College Council wants real coed housing and passed a resolution Wednesday asking the administration to alter the undergraduate regulations that forbid members of the opposite sex from living together. In recent years, a number of colleges and universities have experimented with on-campus cohabitation.
The Undergraduate Regulations manual currently forbids residential colleges from having housing assignment procedures that permit men and women to live together. Though an exception may be made for married couples, those students are not permitted to live in undergraduate dormitories unless both husband and wife are enrolled in Yale College and the Council of Masters has approved the couple’s housing plans.
Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Cooperative said Yale College’s requirement that homosexual students live with members of the same sex is prejudiced.
YCC president and proposal author Andrew Allison ’04 said several students have asked him if they could live with members of the opposite sex. Required to turn down such requests, Allison said he felt the option should be available to those students.
Allison said he has spoken with administrators at various Northeastern colleges and universities that have implemented cohabitation as an option, such as Amherst, Columbia, Haverford, Swarthmore and Wesleyan. Allison said the YCC left the resolution open to administrative interpretation and did not include any stipulations, except for the condition that freshmen not be allowed to cohabit.
“As a freshman, you’re not picking your roommate,” he said.
But upperclassmen would have the opportunity to live with whomever they feel most comfortable, Allison said.
“[The cohabitation-option] would be for students whose best friends are members of the opposite sex,” Allison said.
Stephen Stinton ’06 said he disagrees with the idea of cohabitation on principle.
“I’m against [cohabitation]. Just on the sake of morality,” Stinton said. “I don’t think you should be encouraging cohabitation — When I hear of girls and guys having coed dorms, immorality is just written all over it to me.”
Allison said he spoke with an administrator from another university who said there had been one problem with romantic involvement, but he added that most of the other administrators had positive comments about cohabitation.
“The benefits of cohabitation greatly outweigh any potential problems,” Allison said.
LGBT secretary Emily Wills ’04 said she is in favor of the policy, particularly from the queer rights perspective.
“There’s a rooted assumption in having a same sex suite that everyone is straight,” Wills said.
But that assumption, Wills said, can be a big problem for homosexual students.
“A lot of queer students don’t feel comfortable living with students of the same sex,” Wills said. “It’s just a matter of having to pick roommates on a very arbitrary criterion. Looking back, I’ve heard a lot of grousing about, ‘Why can’t we just live together?'”
Allison said he does not expect the implementation of coed housing to happen overnight.
“[But] like other social changes at Yale, this will happen because it is right,” Allison said.
Jessamyn Blau contributed to this story