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Single-sex housing?

dodgersmomdodgersmom Posts: 5,960Registered User Senior Member
edited January 2013 in Brown University
I know that one can opt-in to single sex housing after freshman year . . . but what about freshman year? is all housing co-ed?
Post edited by dodgersmom on
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Replies to: Single-sex housing?

  • bruno14bruno14 Posts: 1,707Registered User Senior Member
    Freshman housing is traditionally single-sex by room. Freshman can also elect to live on a single-sex floor. Starting this year, there should be an option for freshmen to opt-in to gender neutral housing.
  • texaspgtexaspg Posts: 14,159Super Moderator Senior Member
    "Starting this year, there should be an option for freshmen to opt-in to gender neutral housing. "

    It does warm the cockles of a parent's heart to hear that. :D
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Posts: 5,960Registered User Senior Member
    Freshman can also elect to live on a single-sex floor.

    So if an entering freshman makes a request for a single-sex floor, that request will be honored?

    This is a big issue for a family I know . . . they want to be sure before allowing their son to apply next year. So I appreciate your response!
  • mgcsincmgcsinc Posts: 1,169Registered User Senior Member
    The best advice that could be given to that family is that living on a floor or in a building with other men will make absolutely no difference in their son's behavior. And thank the lord for that.

    Since they're unlikely to be receptive to that: yes, I think the request is honored.
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Posts: 5,260Registered User Senior Member
    The request is honored but the single sex housing is usually one section of one floor of one building. In other words walk far enough down the hall or up/down the stairs and the opposite sex is there.
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Posts: 5,960Registered User Senior Member
    Thanks - I appreciate knowing that.

    But, with regard to your other comment . . . you are assuming that this is a parental dictate, rather than the student's choice. My fault, because I misstated things. True, the parents would not want their son living in coed housing . . . but he feels exactly the same way.

    So, a different question . . . as open as the Brown community is to LGBTQ rights & awareness, would a student with a more conservative lifestyle (who prefers, for example, not to be in co-ed housing) feel out of place there?
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Posts: 5,960Registered User Senior Member
    In other words walk far enough down the hall or up/down the stairs and the opposite sex is there.

    I appreciate the clarification, but at least there would be separate bathrooms, and I think that's the issue. (It would be for me, anyway. Sorry - I'm not a fan of co-ed housing either!)
  • bruno14bruno14 Posts: 1,707Registered User Senior Member
    Bathrooms are usually single-gender, even on co-ed floors (usually when they're not, it's because the residents of that floor were all comfortable making them co-ed). The only case where this isn't true is dorms with semi-private bathrooms, such as MoChamp/EmWool - the bathroom is a single room with a locking door, so it doesn't really matter since only one person can be inside at a time.

    Dodgersmom, if you can clarify: I'm curious what your objection to co-ed housing is, as someone who has been somewhat involved in the move towards gender-neutral housing being offered all over campus. I can assure you that no student who would feel uncomfortable in co-ed housing will be placed there at any point; Brown's objective is simply to offer more options to students who would like them.
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Posts: 5,960Registered User Senior Member
    Ahhh, Bruno, this is an ancient argument for me . . . dating back to a relative who attended Brown decades ago and who, as I understand it, was NOT given the option for single-sex housing.

    My first concern would be the student who, for religious reasons, simply does not want the kind of intimacy with the opposite sex that necessarily comes with co-ed housing. That preferred "degree of separation" disappears when students are wandering back and forth to the bathroom in bathrobes (or less!).

    Second, you can all debate this forever, but I'll never believe that young men are as comfortable with co-ed housing as they pretend to be. Every male student I've discussed this with said he felt uncomfortable entering School X (or Y or Z) as a freshman and finding himself in a co-ed dorm (with co-ed bathrooms). They got used to it "eventually." The women, on the other hand, for the most part didn't bat an eye - they felt comfortable with the situation immediately. So what's a young guy to do - speak up and complain? Not likely he'd be willing to take that risk. Would he be perceived as a weakling or coward, or simply "less masculine," if he admits he doesn't feel comfortable brushing his teeth in a bathroom full of attractive women every morning? Eighteen-year old women are much more likely to be assertive (and comfortable) in social situations than young men of the same age. So, in the end, as I see it, this is a one-sided arrangement . . . and the men who "agree" to it when they first enter the dorm don't really have much of a choice.

    Finally, as far as my personal preferences are concerned . . . well, I'm old and grumpy these days, and I like my privacy. So when I return to my old college dorm for a reunion, the last thing I want to do is share the bathroom with an old friend's husband!

    But, I think it also makes a difference that I attended a traditionally women's college. And even though the school was "in transition" (becoming co-ed) when I was a student there, and most of the dorms were technically co-ed, co-ed halls and bathrooms were still absolutely out of the question! And, looking back, I think I really appreciated having the "safe haven" of a women's hall to go back to at the end of every day. It was comfortable having a small community of women as my hallmates. Frankly, if I was your age and had to make the decision, I guess I'd probably opt for a co-ed hall, too . . . and I think I'd be unknowingly giving up something very special. Frankly, I think many young women spend so much time trying to impress young men that they don't realize how special and supportive a community of women can be. (And, yes, I'm also a big fan of women's colleges for the same reason. :))
  • POmaniPOmani Posts: 453Registered User Member
    I'd be pretty comfortable. In fact, I think I'd like co-ed housing more. I go to an all boys school and all we ever do is moan at the lack of the opposite sex.
  • mgcsincmgcsinc Posts: 1,169Registered User Senior Member
    My own view is that college -- especially an elite college with a national student body to which people flock from far away -- is the place to be put into situations that make you uncomfortable and put your ideas to the test. To me, the fact that people feel uncomfortable in a same-sex situation is neither surprising nor bad. It's the point of the whole enterprise.

    I also think that the existence of gender boundaries is a fundamental social evil that helps perpetuate outmoded gender roles. When you live day to day with women, and see who they are in an intimate setting, you're far less likely to relegate them to a separate and unequal existence.

    As for whether a conservative can feel comfortable at Brown, there have been threads on it in the past, and the general consensus is yes. There is a strong minority community of conservatives, both political and social. I think that the exception is people whose social conservativism rises to what my generation widely considers to be bigotry. If you hate gays, you're unlikely to find Brown to be a welcoming place.
  • i_wanna_be_Browni_wanna_be_Brown Posts: 5,260Registered User Senior Member
    As someone who came out of single sex education, I can definitively say that the fact that women did not exist in my academic world drastically altered the way I perceived and thought about women coming out of high school. The concept of a platonic genuine friendship with the opposite sex did not exist in my eyes until freshman year at Brown when I experienced it. Ironically, in medical school, my closest friends are now in fact women.

    Just as you say women are spending too much time trying to please men and need a safe haven, I say that growing up in a single sex environment taught me that women were a social commodity and not our true peers. The guys who knew girls and could bring them to parties were instantly cooler. Brown is where I stopped associating people's social value with the number of women they were friends with. Additionally I was told in high school that my school was better than everyone else's and that it was a better learning environment because women were absent. How does that not make a teenage boy think "girls are not my academic equals"?

    I can say without a doubt that the "walking through the hallway in a towel" process was much easier for the men in my freshman dorm than the women. I never thought about bringing clothes with me to the shower so that I wouldn't have to walk back in my towel in front of people sitting in the hall whereas I knew several girls who did just that.
  • BrownAlumParentBrownAlumParent Posts: 650Registered User Member
    As above, on coed floors (most) the bathrooms are single sex, and really rarely become "coed". (guys bathrooms being bigger in the "gross factor" as one reason.) My student lived on a freshman hall 3 years, and the bathrooms were only coed when it was one bathroom for 3 rooms in VWMC. (and then its like sharing your bathroom at home with your brothers. only one person is in it at a time!)
    Single sex halls in any college where all halls are not single sex, actually tend to have a higher percentage of LBGT students then coed halls, fyi re the homophobic or "conservative" student, even in very "conservative" schools.
  • dodgersmomdodgersmom Posts: 5,960Registered User Senior Member
    Just to clarify, regarding BrownAlumParent's comment above . . . being "conservative" does not translate to being "homophobic" - and that does seem a rather remarkable leap from the concerns I expressed above.

    Actually, I'll go one step further . . . if the mindset among Brown students (and the parents of Brown students!) is that being "conservative," in politics or lifestyle, necessarily means being homophobic, then perhaps my concerns about a conservative student feeling unwelcome at Brown are well-founded.
  • POmaniPOmani Posts: 453Registered User Member
    Ooooh sowwyy.
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