The conundrums of cohabitation

It is unfortunate that The Hatchet’s Jan. 28 editorial “Staying separate,” (p. 4), retains a close-minded and unhelpful attitude toward freshmen Clark Harding and Kathy Rooney and their fight to room together next year.

The editorial said that perhaps the students “should choose their battles,” implying that the two freshmen would not win their case against the University and therefore they should not have filed suit. Perhaps The Hatchet believes that GW students are underlings who do not have the ability to make a difference in University policy unless a rock-solid case is presented. However, I think it is unwise to dismiss an issue that may well repeatedly raise its head in the future.

I believe Harding and Rooney should be allowed to live together. The front-page article in that same issue (“Students protest coed room policy”) clearly states that Harding is homosexual, so there will be no lovers’ quarrels. If there were to be a problem, then it would be up to Harding and Rooney to work it out among themselves like all other roommates who live on campus are expected to do.

The editorial also brought up the issue of what would happen if GW allowed cohabitation and the couple were to separate. I do agree with The Hatchet’s concerns about what the University would do if couples requested to be moved out of their rooms during the school year. However, I live in Thurston Hall and I have seen and heard about plenty of room switching all year – not just in this residence hall, but all over campus.

Quoted in the article is Phillip Bernard, program director of residential life at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “Those who request cohabitation consult with an adviser . and are reminded that housing leases are binding.” Is this too much to ask of our University? As long as it has been made clear to the man and woman intending to live together that their decision is binding, then it is up to the two to make their living arrangements work.

The editorial also asked “why not move off campus?” The Hatchet is insensitive in its thought process concerning this issue. GW currently runs more than $30,000 per year. We also live in a major city, which means that items cost more than in the suburbs. Not every undergraduate has the luxury to just pick up and leave if something does not go his/her way. Maybe The Hatchet has forgotten that.

I also have to find fault with the University itself. In the front-page article it says “the University will adhere to the policy . until it becomes the norm at other universities.” GW has been ranked No. 50 in U.S. New & World Report‘s rankings and it is probable that the rank will continue to rise. How is GW supposed to be a leader for other universities if we cannot be a leader ourselves?

-The writer is a freshman majoring in environmental studies.

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