kiss another one good-bye

By Diogenes (articles ) | Nov 30, 2009

In the culture war incursions on the higher ed front, another shakily defended pass is about to be sold. From the Boston Globe:

Emerson College students will soon be able to bunk with members of the opposite sex. Starting next fall, the university will pilot a housing program that assigns roommates without regard to gender.

The new policy, which follows a push by the student government, would allow students to choose to live with whom they are most comfortable and provide housing options for students who identify as transgender or who are questioning their gender identity, said Ron Ludman, dean of students.

All students, except freshmen and first-year transfers, could apply; those selected would mutually agree to share a room or suite.

More than two dozen colleges across the country provide or intend to provide gender-neutral housing, including Clark, Brown, Brandeis, Hampshire, Harvard, and Tufts.

Amplifying Allan Bloom, R.R. Reno wrote that higher education has become "the professional training of clever and sybaritic animals, who drink, vomit, and fornicate in the dorms by night while they posture critically and ironically by day." Professionally (if not always personally) bereft of a cogent public morality, university administrators invariably surrender to faculty or student demands for greater sexual autonomy, marshaling only a token resistance for the benefit of anxious parents. Doubtless they will justify this latest capitulation as simple recognition of a fait accompli -- many students are already bunking with a sexual partner -- and besides, they will argue, a society that permits conjugal visits to imprisoned felons can hardly deny the same accommodation to undergraduates.

So which Catholic university will be the first to make the same surrender? It would be interesting to organize a betting pool on the question. As for the surrender itself, the question is not whether, but when. The drama will play out with wearying predictability, and all of us know the moves by heart.

Initially the Catholic colleges will insist "it can never happen here," and will even castigate the skeptics as fear-mongers. After the more prestigious schools have adopted the innovation, the Catholic hold-outs, fearing the reputation as retrograde, will offer the new arrangement as an accommodation for non-Catholic students, part of the university's commitment to diversity. Objectors will be reminded frigidly that there are other reasons besides sex for persons to choose a roommate, and thus it's the conservatives who will be made out to be dirty-minded. Soon the sexual innovation will become standard, no different in practice or consequence from secular schools with similar student profiles.

And here's the best part. When the inevitable Catholic capitulation comes about, and we skeptics have the appallingly bad taste to remind the true believers that the change they assured us could never happen -- the change they once scolded us for suggesting was even possible -- has indeed occurred and occurred with their connivance, it is WE who will be reproved as negative, cynical, captious. We will have contributed to the sad increase of polarization in the Catholic community.  We will be told that the hallmark of Christian discourse is charity.

I'll take Georgetown in seven years for $65.

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 01, 2009 11:15 PM ET USA

    This whole issue is academic. If homosexuality is normal, as most campus denizens these days probably accept as an article of faith, then sex-based segregation of things like public lavatories and residence halls is already meaningless.

  • Posted by: jeremiahjj - Dec. 01, 2009 9:51 PM ET USA

    I strongly doubt a church that is taking such a strong stand on pro-life issues will capitulate on same-sex housing. I see it going opposite from the direction described by Diogenes. Perhaps he's forgotten who our pope is these days. Judging from the speed with which he is pursuing unity with Anglicans and the Orthodox, Benedict XVI seems to have abandoned the idea that the church thinks in terms of centuries.

  • Posted by: garcial7217 - Dec. 01, 2009 5:10 PM ET USA

    and here i was all prepared to make a cynical comment, and everyone else beat me too it :-p

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 30, 2009 2:44 PM ET USA

    In its information for prospective students, the University of San Francisco's Website asks the question: Are the residence halls coed? and answers it, Yes, with the exception of Fromm Hall, which is an all-female residence hall. That doesn't necessarily imply what happens inside the rooms, but it's certainly well on the way. I think in general you're 'way behind the curve on this one, Di.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Nov. 30, 2009 11:58 AM ET USA

    New subscriber here. You are hopelessly behind the times! In 2001, I visited Georgetown on a college visit with our son. At a meeting of parents with about 10 top administrators of the University, someone asked a question about cohabitation. The university spokesman reply was "we don't do anything about cohabitation unless it exceeds 30 days". There were no gasps from the audience except mine. Your bets are a dollar short and a day late. It's worse than you think it is.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2009 10:52 AM ET USA

    My money's on Boston College. They won't even put up token resistance.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 30, 2009 8:23 AM ET USA

    Georgetown is a strong candidate, sure. But the ever innovatively heterodox DePaul University in Chicago--Queer Studies Capital of Catholic (sic) Education--has to be considered a powerful dark horse.

  • Posted by: jacobtoo - Nov. 30, 2009 5:22 AM ET USA

    OK, I'll take Holy Cross in three.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 29, 2009 11:10 PM ET USA

    Seven years?!! C'mon. Of course seven years from now $65 will be worth ... Oh, 20 cents.

  • Posted by: Japheth - Nov. 29, 2009 9:07 PM ET USA

    Gotta go left coast with this one. Santa Clara in six for $100

  • Posted by: - Nov. 29, 2009 7:42 PM ET USA

    SEVEN years?!? I give it 3 at best!