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Friday, March 27, 2009

Coed Blue

In today's paper, the Trinitonian covered the recent ASR proposal to create co-ed housing in Lightner Hall. Because that hall has double rooms with their own bathrooms and shared living rooms in between, this is not a radical proposal. Men and women wouldn't be in the same rooms, just the same suites. It is somewhat benign.

Residential Life has asked ASR to put a little more texture into the proposal. What are the benefits and the reasons for this? What are the drawbacks? Do some benchmarking with other schools, as was done in the Trinitonian editorial, demonstrate student interest (do some students actually oppose this?), and determine what kind of use this program would receive. These requests seem reasonable. Given that the request came just weeks before room reservation for next year this delay was probably inevitable anyway. (Weigh in on the ASR proposal in the poll at right.)

The Trinitonian dismisses our request for compelling data and details, but all good initiatives are supported this way. Sometimes change requires that people justify their reasoning (see Sophomore College).

In the end, this proposal boils down to whether or not the University wishes to stick its neck out for a program that may draw negative criticism. Guilty. Perceptions of prospective students and families (many of whom think we are already too co-ed), Trustees, donors, and the community, do matter. And ultimately the University will be asked to defend its decision. Is this a battle we want to fight? Right now we don't feel strongly enough to do so. Based on what ASR has presented so far, we are not sure the students do either.

1 I advise ASR and I do get this proposal.
2 I think the Trinitonian is fantastic and I like the work they do. I don't want to regularly get into the cycle of event-story/editorial/Dean-Blog-rebuttal. But I have done so twice this semester.
3 I don't love being accurately quoted saying "students now do this off campus. This would be fun rather than going off campus to do this, they'd do it on campus." I guess it depends what the meaning of the word "this" is.


Martin Schwed said...

Dean Tuttle,

This is unrelated, but we wanted to share it with you:

Is Murchison Tower REALLY The Tallest Point in SA?

Anil Bakshi said...

We think it is a good idea. It will lead to better harmony and behavior (especially with Boys).
Some parents may get the 'Blues', understandable, but it really is not such an issue. Kids can still do whatever they want even without 'coed' halls.
Its all about growing up, informed choices, maturity etc! etc,.
Gurmeet and Anil

Superman said...

The reluctance of the administration to okay the coed housing might be to prevent from being stigmatized in media if some college/university were to point this out. It is understandable yes, that Trinity wants to preserve its prestige. But I do not know why any student would oppose this?

The whole point of this proposal is to promote freedom of choice. Even if students do not want to live in a sophomore college, they have to, because there their freedom is limited. And this one is just an extended case of that to limit their freedoms further.

Any institution may choose to limit their students' freedom but what should be understood is that, it may not necessarily stop them from pursuing that choice altogether. I am pretty sure that even though ResLife rejected their proposal, they would by-pass this restriction to find a way to live together.

The university may be doing what it should be doing to preserve its prestige and avoid any stigma or controversy in the future, but it won't deter students from pursuing what they believe would do no harm. They cannot go on living suffering the brunt of status-quos.

David Tuttle said...

Thanks for writing. I think there are probably many more freedoms students could really get worked up about. (The environment, world hunger, poverty, homelessness, to name a few.)

The sophomore college is about student success and retention, not about limiting freedom. Please read the full report on the Dean of Students web page.

This proposal for co-ed housing is pretty benign, I agree. I think students also want pets in the dorms, and drugs, and high-def TV. (Wait, I think we are actually getting high-def next year!) In running the residence halls we have to look at lots of factors and review best practices, etc. ASR can still make this happen. They just need to do a little more leg work.

I receive complaints all the time that we are too liberal, too open-minded, too hands-off. I doubt Superman would save me when the calls start coming in on this one. My powers don't go so far...

Shep McAllister said...

HDTV?!? Did that happen?