One Calhoun freshman does not have key card access to her entryway or a key to her suite. Every time she wants to get into her dorm, she must use the blue phone outside to call her suitemates. She does not have her own bedroom, but sleeps on a futon in the common room. And her suitemates are not women — she lives with a group of sophomore boys.
After repeated disagreements with her suitemates, the student moved out of her assigned Bingham Hall room two months into the school year. She now lives in a coed suite, against undergraduate regulations.
“It’s just sort of living with the social group where I spend my time,” she said.
As unusual as her situation may seem, she is not the only Yale student cohabiting with members of the opposite sex.
In the wake of the Yale College Council’s November 2002 resolution calling for coed housing, students in the Alliance for Sensible College Housing at Yale, or ASCHY, have begun a campaign to convince a reluctant administration to allow students of different sexes to live together on campus. Yesterday, ASCHY began asking students to sign the organization’s petition at mealtimes.
Amid the current flurry of debate over coed housing, it is easy to forget that many Yalies already live in coed arrangements, both on campus and off.
According to the Yale College Undergraduate Regulations, “procedures for the assignment of student housing may contain no provisions that would permit men and women to cohabit.”
Nevertheless, a few official exceptions do exist.
In Ezra Stiles College — which does not offer the more traditional suite — students may choose to live together in coed hallways, said Wallis Finger ’04, a member of Stiles’ student housing committee. Over the past four years, no more than one or two such hallways have existed at one time, Finger said.
Arianna Romairone ’03 lived in a Stiles coed hallway last year. The group consisted of five women and two men.
“It was great,” she said. “I was living with my best friends, especially in Stiles where you lose the whole suite aspect.”
Romairone said she believes demand for the coed hallways has increased in recent years. Her situation worked out so well that this year, the group decided to move off campus together.
Samantha Green-Atchley’s ’04 suite in Durfee Hall connects through the bathroom to a male suite on the other side, and she said the two suites frequently interact. Green-Atchley said that while she enjoys having guys around, there are some less pleasant aspects to coed housing.
“Sharing a bathroom isn’t that great,” she said. “They’re dirtier than we are.”
Some students, like the freshman in Calhoun, find unofficial ways around the Undergraduate Regulations.
The freshman said she moved out of her assigned suite because of disagreements with her suitemates. After repeatedly trying to solve the problems, she moved onto the futon in her sophomore friends’ suite and has lived there ever since.
“The best part of living here is being able to just sort of drop onto the futon during late-night conversations and go to sleep, and not worry about heading all the way back to Bingham,” she said. “I live with my best friends. That’s worth the Yale tuition.”
Although she said she plans to enter the housing draw randomly next year and try to find a suitable situation, she still supports the campaign for coed housing.
“I think [that], by what this country considers an age legal to draft and to vote, students can find groups of friends with whom they can live comfortably — without a housing policy that acts like a suspicious grandmother,” she said.
The freshman is not the only student illegally living in a suite with members of the opposite sex. One Trumbull student said he moved an extra bed into his room for his girlfriend who officially lives across the hall, and she sleeps in his suite every night.
Of course, most students who wish to live with members of the opposite sex simply move off campus junior or senior year.
Joseph Ross ’04 and Judith Joffe-Block ’04 live together off-campus with two other students in a group consisting of two women and two men. Joffe-Block said she rarely thinks about the gender of her roommates.
“I guess I think of my housemates more as individuals and less as genders,” she said, “These particular individuals are people I enjoy living with, and two of them happen to be boys.”
Joffe-Block said that her parents were glad she was living in a coed situation.
“From a safety standpoint, my over-anxious mother was enthusiastic,” she said.
Ross agreed that gender was rarely an issue. Bathroom situations were the only difference he noticed.
“When you first meet anyone and you are sharing a bathroom, there are awkward situations, and it took a little longer [to get over that] with girls,” he said.
Tom Ogletree ’03 has lived off campus for two years with two different female students. Like Ross and Joffe-Block, he said he simply enjoys living with his friends. But subtle differences between single-sex and coed housing situations do exist, Ogletree said.
“I have noticed a difference between the way people live together,” he said. “It’s just different and I can’t pinpoint exactly why. You get a bunch of guys together and there is going to be a different dynamic. You see this with fraternities, sororities, sports teams.”
Ogletree said he supports the current campaign for coed housing.
“The administration should do what it can, considering how much people pay for housing and considering that they expect you to go along with it for two years,” he said.
Romairone was more hesitant.
“I think that there are many people who would be uncomfortable living in coed situations,” she said.
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