More American colleges are introducing mixed rooming, with Emerson College in Boston the latest to announce its embrace of what is known as “gender-neutral” housing. The Boston Globe says more than two dozen colleges across the country now provide or intend to provide this option. It is meant to make the students more “comfortable”.

The new policy, which follows a push by the student government, would allow students to choose to live with whom they are most comfortable and provide housing options for students who identify as transgender or who are questioning their gender identity, said Ron Ludman, dean of students.

So this blogger’s comment is probably correct:

What may surprise parents who are taken aback by the notion of students of the opposite sex sharing a dorm room is that the movement to amend housing practices is being driven almost entirely by gay and lesbian students and their campus supporters…

How optional will this option remain? In a new 14-storey residence hall at Emerson the arrangements are as follows:

The residence floors consist of seven suites per floor. Each suite consists of three two-person bedrooms and one shared bathroom and living room for the unit. In addition, each floor has at least one residence assistant’s room with either a common room or an additional residence assistant’s room every other floor.

So, if you are a normal student wanting to room with someone of your own sex (but not a same-sex partner) and keep out of sexual relationships, you may still have to live in close proximity with and share a bathroom with people who are of the opposite sex and/or likely to be sexual partners. And who gets the “residence assistant’s” job?

What happens if you try to move to more congenial quarters? Maybe the gender equality police will have something to say about that. Obviously, there’s a lot more than fees for families to think about when choosing a college.

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet