December 2, 2020

Single Gender dorms: Old fashioned and out of date

Lorena Macias is a sophomore journalism major and staff writer for The Journal

During freshman year, I lived on the all-girls floor in West Hall — the only single-gender floor on campus. I didn’t choose to live there, and neither did the majority of girls I asked. Most of my neighbors, myself included, spent their time on other floors. Though we all met at the beginning of the year, by the end of the year I still didn’t know who most of my neighbors were. And of course, an all-girls floor will always lead to some drama.
I believe most students would rather live in a coed environment. And while nearly all of Webster University housing is coed, not all higher education institutes feel the same way.  Last week President John Garvey of the Catholic University of America said the university would soon transition from single-sex floors to single-sex dorms. Currently, dormitory buildings on that campus are mixed gender, with men on one floor and women on the floor above, and so on.
Now the university will be transitioning to completely single-sex dorm buildings. Of course, many students objected to this immediately. Not only are students objecting to the decision but lawsuits are being filed regarding human rights concerns.
Student binge drinking and sex have supposedly gotten out of control at Catholic U, and is a part of campus life everywhere. It’s understandable that Garvey is more concerned about it on his campus since it’s a religious institution, especially when it is known that premarital sex is not part of the religion. But maybe they should try to recruit students who are more willing to follow the rules. The school should market themselves differently. Forcing people to follow the rules doesn’t put anyone at a higher standing. Restricting students won’t make anyone a better Catholic.
Garvey should base his argument on other issues that come with the behavior: academic issues, assault cases, vandalism, etc.
For example,  the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism named binge drinking as the leading cause of death in young adults. Preventing deaths is something important to add since this issue is something hard to fight against.
Do single-sex dormitories have an effect on binge drinking and casual sex? Yes, it seems like they might. According to The Journal of Alcohol Studies “college students residing in coed dormitories and fraternity/sorority houses, when compared with students residing in single-gender dormitories, were more likely to report heavy episodic drinking.”
So, same-sex dorms work in preventing binge drinking. Nevertheless, another factor to take into consideration is that students who choose to live in coed dorms probably do so because they know it’ll be easier to have sex and get drunk, just like those that choose to live in single-sex dorms are probably not as interested in partying.
In this case it wouldn’t be about how effective the living arrangement is, but about different students make different choices.
If you get a group of male and female 18-yearolds together, it’s an automatic party, almost by definition. This is less likely to happen with a group of people of the same sex.
But let’s not forget that by nature human beings are attracted to the forbidden. No manner of living re-shuffling will keep people from having sex.
I believe that most students, especially those who are underage, drink and party more for the thrill. If drinking and having sex were openly allowed and embraced by a school, this would make it less satisfactory for a freshman to rebel.
Students unhappy with the transition in plan are working with student government to have the right to vote on the decision. Though the student body’s opinion toward the transition to single-sex dorms varies, a large number of students are against it.
Another university group, DC Students Speak, has gone a step further and are circulating a petition which says, “mandatory single-sex residence halls denounce reality; promote the seclusion of male and female interaction; and deny students the free and fair right to choice, whether it be their living arrangement and/or decision making in everyday life.”
Though it’s a Catholic university, the decision to transition from coed dorms to single-gender dorms will actually harm the institution by discouraging enrollment. I know I wouldn’t enroll, and even friends of mine who don’t believe in partying or casual sex wouldn’t want to live in an all-girls dormitory. It can be too much estrogen sometimes, especially in tight places.
Accompanying student unrest, John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, is suing the university for violating the District of Columbia’s Human Rights Act.
In reality, young people will always find a way. Next thing you know the problem won’t be a student drinking in dorms. If dorms aren’t available, students are likely to go elsewhere, which could be more dangerous. And I challenge any college policy to actually prevent casual sex on campus.
The Catholic University of America should be concerned with their students’ wellbeing and integrity, but same-sex dorms aren’t the best option. Having single-gender dorms could really hurt enrollment and morale at the school. Maybe working on a better student housing staff to make sure that nothing gets out of control would be a better idea.
This way they can keep a closer eye on students but will keep the option of coed dorms and a single-sex portion for students who will feel better in that environment.

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