Student leaders at the College of William and Mary call for establishment of “‘gender blind’ housing options for students
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. Student leaders at the College of William and Mary have passed a bill calling on school administrators to establish voluntary coeducational dorms.
The student Senate’s measure calls on the college administration to establish a voluntary “gender blind” housing option by next school year, allowing members of the opposite sex to live together.
The impetus came not from boyfriend-girlfriend couples but from gay students who complained about uncomfortable experiences living with same-sex roommates, student senator Zach Pilchen said.
The proposal also would open the door for heterosexual couples who want to live together on the Williamsburg campus, said Pilchen, a sophomore from Arlington and the bill’s sponsor.
“If they break up, or have an argument, they deal with it,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, they’re adults, and they can behave responsibly, as adults.”
Sam Sadler, vice president for student affairs, said he hasn’t seen the proposal. Students make many recommendations, he said, “and we look at all of those.”
Pilchen said students of different genders already study, eat and participate in campus activities together.
“I don’t think it’s that big a leap to live together, too,” he said.
Myrt Westphal, associate dean for student life at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvannia said gay and transgender students pushed for the co-ed arrangement in place at that school. Although college officials recommend that roommates avoid romantic entanglements, the school took the stand that it’s a student’s choice, not a parent’s and has received only a handful of complaints, she said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 6, 2006.