There was a point in history where a college would have separate wings for male and female students to learn. Then, in the 20th century colleges became co-ed and by the 1970’s co-ed dorm rooms had started making an appearance. In recent years, over 150 United States colleges have also started offering co-ed rooms within the dorms.
While almost every colleges in America offers co-ed dorm rooms (meaning that a common building is shared by both sexes), there are only a select few that extend this to rooms as well. Currently, there is only a small selection of schools or colleges that offer co-ed dorm rooms, the most prominent of these include: Stanford University, Brown University, Oberlin College, and the University of Pennsylvania. These colleges have various reasons for allowing co-ed dorm rooms sharing. Some students have friends of the opposite sex and find comfort and security by sharing a room with them, others may be couples wishing to be closer to each other. While the policies of each co-ed dorm might vary with regards to areas gender segregated bathrooms or allowing guests of the opposite sex to stay over, for some students these dorms are an opportunity to forge friendships and bonds with people regardless of sex or gender. Before signing up for a co-ed dorm room, students should evaluate their own comfortability with this and consider factors like privacy, religious belief, and safety.
How do Co-ed Dorms Work?
So, a co-ed dorm room and a co-ed dorm aren’t exactly the same thing. A co-ed dormitory alone can simply refer to a space where male and female students live in the same building, but they do not actually share rooms. So, this could mean that certain floors are allocated to men or others to women, or that men and women can live next door to each other while still not sharing a room.
On the other hand, there can be two forms of co-ed dorm rooms. In the first type, men and women share the same room, meaning they are literally roommates. In the second type, the college provides suite type housing and while both male and female students can share one suite – the rooms in the suite are still segregated by gender. This means that male students will have male roommates and female students will have female roommates.
Reasons for Getting a Co-ed Dorm Room
- Couples who Want to Stay Together
The most common reason for which certain students might choose to get co-ed dorm rooms is that they are in a relationship and couples simply just want to be close to each other. In fact, this need of young couples has even been recognised by certain Christian schools and they allow married students to live in the same bedroom.
- Friends of the Opposite Sex Wish to Stay Close
College can be a scary, daunting experience. That’s why when students make friends in their new homes, they want to stay close to them. A lot of times these friends can be from the opposite sex. Moreover, sometimes students who have moved to college from a particular town may find people of the opposite sex from their town at their college. In order to feel more comfortable, they might choose to stay with people they already know – even if they may belong to the opposite sex.
- Gay Students Feel More Comfortable
For gay and lesbian students, sharing a room with the opposite sex may actually prove to be a more comforting experience than sharing it with people of the same sex. With assurance that no relationships or sexual encounters can arise with the opposite sex, these students may feel safer sharing a room with them.
Things to Consider Before Choosing Co-ed Dorm Rooms
- Religious Beliefs
For a lot of people, rooming with the opposite sex is a no-go because of their religious beliefs. Remember, your dorm room is your home for four years and you don’t want to feel constantly uncomfortable doing things like changing clothes there just because the opposite sex is present. So, for a lot of people who subscribe to certain religions, having a co-ed dorm room can be offensive to their beliefs and invasive to their privacy.
- Developing a Relationship
There have been several recorded instances of students in co-ed dorm rooms entering into relationships with one another. And while there’s nothing wrong with seeking companionship in the turbulence of college, if couples end up breaking up this could lead to an awkward situation. You definitely don’t want to break up with someone and then have to spend the rest of the year with them – that could get really ugly and uncomfortable for everyone involved. However, for gay and lesbian students this factor could also be a reason in favor of getting a co-ed dorm room.
There are quite a few prominent colleges in the United States that offer co-ed dorm rooms. Before choosing a college, you should do thorough research into its dorm policies as those you share your dorm room with can make-or-break your college experience.
You should also evaluate yourself and figure out what exactly your particular needs are when it comes to a dorm room. How comfortable are you with the constant presence of the opposite sex? What are your religious beliefs when it comes to sharing a room with the opposite sex? If your friends are all from the opposite sex, would you feel more comfortable being with them than with strangers? All of these are important questions to consider before you make your choice.
Can you change roommates in the middle of the semester?
It’s possible but it isn’t recommended. Dorms are usually filled to the brim in college and it is only if staying with a roommate is very debilitating on both your abilities to function a switch is facilitated.
Are their genderblind dorms in college?
Yes, but they’re found in around 50% of schools so you’ll have to research into whether your particular school offers them. Some prominent examples include: the University of California, Stanford University, and Yale University.
Can I choose my own roommate in college?
It’s up to the particular school. A lot of colleges will give you a preference sheet where you choose your preferences for a roommate but not be able to pick a specific person. However, others allow students to choose who they would like to room with.
Do unisex dorms still exist?
Almost every college provides some degree of unisex dormitory arrangements. Even if both sexes have to share the same building, most colleges ensure that the rooms themselves are occupied by people of the same sex.