This semester, two male students and two females moved into a University residence hall room together because of an error, despite a GW policy prohibiting co-ed rooms. GW has since ordered either the male or female students in the room to move out. This situation raises the question as to whether or not the exclusion of co-ed rooms is the best possible policy. With other colleges – including American University – exploring the benefits of a co-ed option, GW administrators should consider gender-inclusive housing, which may be in its best interest.
With residence hall space at a premium, it is important to explore all options that might lead to the maximization of hall capacity. Limitations on the sex of the residents to fill an open spot in a room can hinder this process.
Allowing students living on campus to voluntarily agree to live with a member of the opposite sex would help provide more flexibility when GW fills its residence halls. This would be advantageous not only in initially assigning rooms efficiently but also in permitting room swaps and moving students if a room becomes unavailable.
It would be naive of administrators to prevent a possible shift in policy because of a thought that doing so would promote promiscuity. A thin wall separating a male room from a female room in Thurston Hall, where freshmen live side-by-side on co-ed floors, hardly prevents sexual encounters in student rooms.
Students are capable of making rational decisions about whom they want to live with. Plenty of undergraduates have taken the opportunity to move off campus with a member of the opposite sex; undergraduates in the University housing system should also be able to make the same rational choice. It is unlikely that students would opt to live with someone who will be a source of problems and stress, so allowing residents to make this choice would minimize some of the housing difficulties the University faces each semester.
Co-ed housing could offer more flexibility for GW’s housing program. Tradition has kept dorm residents in one room for the same gender. In a residence hall already devoid of single-sex floors, it is anachronistic to require all students to live only with members of the same gender.