Ohio University will experiment with gender-neutral dorm rooms next year. That means that, in the land of the Bobcat, cold, thick walls will no longer separate Bob and Cat.
The option will be available to sophomores, juniors and seniors in three residence halls. This policy exists at more than 50 institutions nationwide.
The decision has sparked heated debate between those seeing it only as beneficial and those morally opposed. Many proponents say it will help gays and lesbians who might feel uncomfortable living with members of the same sex.
I think they are using this as more of a convenient talking point than a sincere argument.
Opponents, on the other hand, say the arrangements weaken the moral fiber of society. While it is sad to say, I hope these people understand that state-run institutions are not exactly breeding grounds for morality. Breeding grounds, maybe — but not for morality.
It is important to point out that no one will be forced to live in such an arrangement. Students must apply for it and write an essay explaining how they both will benefit. Even if this experiment is deemed successful, I doubt it will ever become widely popular.
It is unlikely that most young men and women, if they gave it serious thought, would want to live in such conditions. First, couples are discouraged, but not prohibited, from living together. This arrangement almost always ends poorly. And when it does, vast awkwardness ensues, which makes everyone uncomfortable.
Second, the policy proposes the option of a brother and sister living together. Again, this might be tolerable for some, but not for most. By most, I mean roughly 98.3 percent of all brothers and sisters.
Living with a friend of the opposite sex might be the safest possibility. But even that is not always in one’s best interest. Sometimes distance is the best way to preserve a friendship.
The fact is that men and women, particularly at this age, are very different. They behave differently and have different interests. Tearing down that wall of separation could unintentionally threaten a person’s individuality. Putting members of the opposite sex together in very small quarters in a sometimes hectic and stressful environment like college could certainly cause problems, even if most of them seem unimportant.
That leads to another concern: television. I can’t imagine anything more dreadful than being coerced into watching “Grey’s Anatomy” or a cake-making marathon instead of an important sporting event. This might seem stereotypical, but if faced with a situation so dire, long live the stereotype.
Extreme positions have been taken on both sides, like the belief that simply being in college makes one mature enough to make any and all decisions, or the notion that students will commence screwing as soon as the door closes.
It is unfair to say that no college kids can handle living with someone of the opposite sex. Surely, some can. But perhaps the biggest problem with this policy is the potential influx of candidates who express interest without giving it proper thought.