Rutgers University will implement a new pilot program next fall allowing students to choose roommates of the opposite sex to dorm together.
In light of the suicide of Tyler Clementi, the teen that jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his male roommate and another female student streamed video of him engaging in a sexual encounter with a man, this new program will hopefully help students to avoid being forced to room with someone who opposes their lifestyle. It is what many gay and lesbian students have been waiting for.
The program will offer gender-neutral housing in three dormitories with the aim to make the campus more inclusive for gay students since lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students often have trouble finding a roommate that accepts their lifestyle.
Co-ed dorm rooms will also be opened to heterosexual students who choose to room with a member of the opposite sex, and the university says it will not allow parents to override a student’s decision.
Not all parents are pleased with this. Some say they have taken Rutgers off their child’s college list because of it. Others think that it is an immoral stance. Some are concerned with sexually transmitted disease and others (perhaps the only argument that bears some weight) speak of logistical issues. What happens if a couple breaks up in the middle of the semester?
The arguments against it are ridiculous for quite a few reasons. First, many parents are homophobic and don’t want to expose their kids to the lifestyle and have it institutionally deemed acceptable. I wish I could say it was a small population that felt this way, but I doubt it.
Other parents who don’t object to gay and lesbian students are worried about what message it sends to their kids about having sex in college. But I think when people reach 18, they are adults no matter what their parents think. If they are going to have sex, they will have it, whether they room with a boy or a girl and whether they even live in a dorm or at home.
The time for sex education, just like learning about how to get along with others, form good study habits, and how to be responsible, comes long before college life. It starts now when they are little, and it happens on an ongoing basis, little by little throughout the years by example and conversation. By the time children reach 18, they are on their own. Hopefully, what you have done as a parent the past 18 years will show in how they carry themselves and conduct their lives.
I see first hand in my teen daughter that what she has learned in her early years has formed a strong foundation for who she is now. I also see the break in independence coupled with the indecision that strikes her sometimes as she grows. I will always be here to offer my opinion, if asked, but I hope that we have raised her to make her own good decisions the majority of the time.
Yes, they will make mistakes, but don’t we all? We can’t save our children from everything out there. Although, we’d all like to do just that but it’s not possible or healthy. There is no benefit to interfering and overstepping boundaries. While we may not always agree with what our kids choose, hopefully we will respect them in their choices.
I would feel completely comfortable with having my kids in co-ed housing. There comes a time when the cord really does have to be cut, and as more parents are getting over involved in college life, with everything from helping choose classes to decorating the dorm room, I think Rutgers got it right this time.
What do you think? Would you let your child live in co-ed housing?