Embedded in every crevice of every courtyard at Yale is tradition. It is why many students choose to attend; it is why others shun the Old Blue.
The College’s gender-segregated housing system is one such remnant of the University’s past. But the redeeming qualities are few. And unlike other Eli customs, it does not better Yale or help define its identity.
Thankfully, the administration seems to be warming to the idea that in every year, some boys will not identify as boys, some girls not as girls — and that during the housing draw, personality and will should trump gender and antiquated notions of sex and sexuality.
In December, officials formed a committee on gender-neutral housing, which, while not including students, is meeting with undergraduates for input. By next spring, it will recommend whether or not the College should transition to the system. (Although it seems odd that the decision would take more than 12 months to render, at least the question is up for debate.)
We urge this committee to heartily endorse the proposal to allow women and men to live in the same suites after their freshman year. To not do so would be to delay the inevitable and embrace thinking that is antiquated and uninformed by modern values.
With good reason, the argument for gender-neutral housing has been advanced most ardently by members of the LGBTQ community, not just at Yale but across the country.
On these grounds alone, the committee should seriously consider recommending a sea change in housing. However, the rationale can also be put more simply: For the approximately $10,000 it costs for room and board here, Yalies should have a choice as to with whom they room. As it stands, though, a male student, especially in these days of residential-college overcrowding, might end up living with a male peer for whom he harbors no special liking over a female friend who would enhance his quality of life if stationed nearby.
Not convinced? Then set aside will for a moment, and consider something else altogether: Should students, as a matter of principle, not have the right to live with people of whichever gender makes them most comfortable?
Of course they should. And yet as long as gender-segregated housing remains, some gay students — and straight ones — at this time of year inevitably, yet needlessly, face the uncomfortable.
Transgender students, meanwhile, necessarily feel awkward and maladjusted come housing-draw season; simply put, no option exists for them whatsoever.
If this all is not enough, perhaps the University would respond well — as it has in the past — to peer competition: It just so happens that in 2008, only Princeton can boast following Yale’s lead and holding out on gender-neutral housing. At least in part, every other Ancient Eight school has made the move.
For a university that touts its residential-college system as second to none, however, housing is one area in which it cannot afford to fall behind