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Co-ed bathroom in dorms - am I crazy and how can I find out details from schools on our list?


Replies to: Co-ed bathroom in dorms - am I crazy and how can I find out details from schools on our list?

  • tutumom2001tutumom2001 Registered User Posts: 661 Member
    I went to a state school in the 80s and we didn't have co-ed dorms, much less co-ed floors with one exception ... there was a dorm for married people, but it was more like an apartment and didn't have community bathrooms in the first place. The rest of us all had single-sex dorms with community bathrooms and you had to stand outside the door if someone from the opposite sex was inside. So, yes, in my neck of the woods this is a "new phenomenon."
  • alhalh Registered User Posts: 8,117 Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    I started college in 1974 at a southern state flagship. First year I had my choice of a single sex dorm, no men allowed except in the entry hall, and with curfews and a desk monitor signing us in and out all day and night, or a hippy, artsy, co-ed dorm with no curfew or rules. The co-ed dorm officially had single sex bathrooms but in practice bathrooms were shared by all in the dorm and their visitors. After first year I moved into a sorority house. Officially no men were allowed anywhere but in downstairs public spaces and were signed in and out by someone stationed in the entry hall. Unoffically, boyfriends regularly climbed right up the columns and balcony to the third floor to stay overnight. So the third floor frequently had co-ed bathrooms. Any woman who found it problematic either lived on the second floor or just walked down one flight when men were staying over. We also had a huge game/play room on the third floor couples could utilze so it wasn't necessary to intrude on roommates. In spite of official rules and regulations, we just all worked these issues out among ourselves. If someone had too many sleepover guests, sometimes she was asked to please start spending some nights at his place. Looking back, there were a whole lot of good reasons to have the men come to an environment we controlled. It was a lot safer than a fraternity house. Having grown up in a large family, compromise with regard to living situations was not a new experience for me.. I can't really remember this being a problem for anyone in the sorority house, and don't think it ever occured to any of us we needed to follow the official rules we'd been given. Of course, our sorority house mother and our parents (mostly) had no idea.

    I really can't remember those third floor bathrooms ever being an issue. There were two large bathrooms, each with rows of toilets and showers and sinks and assigned cubbies. Maybe we just assigned one sometimes to the men. I really can't remember; it was such a non-issue. I do know there was never really any discussion about it and men took showers at our house. And walked back and forth in a towel sometimes.
  • alhalh Registered User Posts: 8,117 Senior Member
    edited October 2017
    There is a thread on this almost every year since 2009 or 2010 when this started popping up at some Eastern colleges with more frequency. Oberlin might have had it earlier but I can’t remember from threads years ago.

    This is just not true. Co-ed bathrooms were not uncommon at schools up and down the east coast when we began touring colleges in the late 90s while on family vacations. And I'm pretty sure we had threads on this prior to 2009. So it seems to me, your experience is limited and potentially misleading. This is nothing new, even if you were unaware.

    It isn't surprising to me it may be a new idea for some families, and I am sympathetic to the OP, and anyone else, who finds the situation unexpected and potentially uncomfortable. This board is a very good place to get college information, even about bathrooms. A lot of posters, who do have experience with a variety of colleges nationwide, took the time to write and provide correct, and reassuring, information about the question the OP asked. For the life of me, I have no idea what the rest of this thread is really about.



    ^a thread from 2004. Prior to 2004 this board was on a different site, and I don't know if earlier threads even show up in a search. There are 39 pages of these threads when I do a search for thread titles with the word "bathroom". It should not be a new issue for long-time posters like Momofthreeboys.

    Again, for some parents of new colleges students, it is a new issue. And this is the right place to ask. And folks are happy to help you.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 15,086 Senior Member
    "I mean, are they going to designate a whole bathroom just for the use of the occasional male visitor? Makes no sense"

    Yet single sex dorms and sorority houses and convents have done just that for decades.

    My sorority had a guest room, with a bathroom, and that's what male visitors used. My daughter's sorority house has that too, a bathroom on the main floor for guests to use (they have a male cook and hashers), right here in the 21st century. And I wouldn't call them 'occasional male visitors' at Smith. Our tour leader proudly said that many student's boyfriends (or girlfriends) basically lived with the student, in the room, whether they were singles or doubles. This turned me off more than the co-ed bathrooms, as it seemed there was no privacy nor could one expect privacy or to only share your room with one roommate. When someone asked about whether roommates objected to this, the tour guide just shrugged and said that's the way it is.

    At a women's school, why would it be a big deal to designate one bathroom as male or co-ed, and leave all the rest as for women only? At least they were up front about it and said all bathrooms (and all bedrooms) were open to all and my daughter could make an informed decision. She wasn't interested.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,233 Senior Member
    Two- I would not have encouraged my kids to consider ANY college which was ok with a non-rent paying tenant in my kids dorm. The liability issue alone (what risk manager at Smith thinks that giving access to dorms on a 24/7 basis is a rational idea?) would put the kibosh on it for me.

    The bathroom issue is secondary based on what you are now posting! My kids lived in all sorts of living situations. There was an occasional overnight visitor to one of my kids suites. The other suitemates called a meeting and told this student that they were not interested in sharing their bathroom, common room (and snacks in the fridge), or hallway with a fulltime romantic partner so it was time to figure out an alternative arrangement before they got the RA involved.

    problem solved. Have no clue how.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 15,086 Senior Member
    I think the message that was trying to be conveyed was that Smith is open to all (except at that time to transgendered people born male), that they were all so open and sophisticated and worldly that they shared with the visitors and parents that nothing was off limits, including sex in dorm rooms (but the bathroom had a sign requesting there not be sex in the showers).

    The more she talked, the more my daughter was turned off. My daughter really liked the educational opportunities, but didn't like anything else. Since there are so many other schools in the world, why pick one where there was a big negative to her? Her host that weekend was a high school friend who was a shy girl from the south and I think she was a little overwhelmed in her first few weeks there. She transferred after a year. I'm sure it wasn't over bathrooms.

    I think the point is that open and co-ed are not for everyone. Some people still like more privacy. I know many people who don't use public restrooms, even at their offices. If the school has other options, the OP wanted to know how to find them. If the school doesn't have other options, let the touring students know and they can decide. There have been students on CC who will only consider schools that let freshmen have singles, or live off campus, or don't have to take a meal plan. It's just one more box on the checklist of needs, wants, deal breakers.
  • millie210millie210 Registered User Posts: 377 Member
    @blossom I'm not really understanding your first paragraph.

    Basically moving your significant other into your shared room is just rude, regardless of rules, liability, etc.

    But not allowing access 24/7? Who does that besides very religious colleges?

    I spent plenty of time in dorms not my own at very late hours. Sometimes I was just hanging out or studying with friends. Sometimes I was spending the night in my boyfriend's single. Do you really want the RA's making a sweep of the dorm every night at midnight or or 1 am or whenever, checking each room, throwing out all non-residents and then setting a lock that won't allow non-residents back into the building until 7 am? Are we going to return to parietal hours and signing in and out of dorms?

    And what serious risks are you foreseeing for me being in my boyfriend's room (or vice versa) at 3 am that the school should be worried about?
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,233 Senior Member
    Millie, not every romantic partner is an enrolled student in the college. We toured one urban college (in a rapidly transitioning neighborhood, but still urban) where we were told that it was tough during freshman year getting the kids to understand that they couldn't leave a fire door open with a cinder block to allow for easy access for friends who wanted to bypass the security desk (which took driver's licenses or student ID's so there was a log of every visitor, plus the visitors face on the videocam). Fire doors have a safety purpose. Logging in visitors has a safety purpose. Kids don't like to be inconvenienced. When do the adults get involved? At many urban universities there IS a sign in/sign out system. Do you want every creep or drug dealer in town having access to your kids room with absolutely no way to determine who is going in and out of the dorm?

    None of my kids ended up living with a third party, unregistered student in their dorms. An occasional romantic partner is one thing. A semi-permanent dude setting himself up with free wifi without going to class, paying rent, or any oversight as to who he is? Sorry, I'm not that open-minded.

    I'm not worried about you and your BF at 3 am. I'm worried about the 16 year old HS girl who meets a guy at a party. Or the local sex offender who wanders into an open dorm entrance without ID or needing an electronic key, pass, or other security device. My kids all ended up at urban universities which took safety very, very seriously.
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 15,151 Senior Member
    "I think the message that was trying to be conveyed was that Smith is open to all (except at that time to transgendered people born male), that they were all so open and sophisticated and worldly that they shared with the visitors and parents that nothing was off limits, including sex in dorm rooms (but the bathroom had a sign requesting there not be sex in the showers)."

    My guess is the tour guide was just being open and honest about how Smith is. The "they were all so open and sophisticated and worldly" is your interpretation based on your own biases. But you're right, doesn't sound like a good fit for your family. As far as sex in dorm rooms, that is going to happen regardless of the school with the exception of a handful of religious, conservative schools.

    To @blossom's point, we all get different strokes for different folks but absent the Smith College example, no one else has mentioned a campus where a single sex bathroom residential set-up isn't an option somewhere on campus.
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,329 Senior Member
    "But not allowing access 24/7? Who does that besides very religious colleges?"

    A lot of schools have visiting hours, or only allow you to host a guest past a certain hour if you register your guest days in advance.
  • millie210millie210 Registered User Posts: 377 Member
    @blossom @Hanna Gotcha. That makes sense. I was thinking about my experience at Wesleyan, but, of course, not every college is in a smallish town in the middle of Connecticut.
  • romanigypsyeyesromanigypsyeyes Registered User Posts: 33,020 Senior Member
    My public uni had 24/7 dorm access. After midnight, you had to come in through the main door and be checked in, but as long as you were with someone who was supposed to be in the dorm, it was fine.

    I actually can't even remember if you had to live in the dorm or just be a confirmed student to get in.
  • doschicosdoschicos Registered User Posts: 15,151 Senior Member
    A lot of smaller schools with relatively safe campuses don't have any check-in procedure, no front desk. You have your card to swipe and you'd have to swipe in a guest but that is all.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 15,086 Senior Member
    " no one else has mentioned a campus where a single sex bathroom residential set-up isn't an option somewhere on campus. "

    But that's all the OP was asking - are there options they should be requesting as they don't want to move into a dorm and find out on Day 1 that this wing is voting for co-ed bathrooms and it's too late to do anything about it. Suggestions have been to request an all male or all female dorm, a private room with bath, a suite, or a more conservative school.

    My daughter's dorm did not vote. She lived on a female wing and all the bathrooms on that wing were for females. Females who had an ID to swipe into the bathroom. On co-ed floors, there were female bathrooms and male bathrooms, often right next to each other, but you still needed to swipe into the one you were assigned to. No voting. The bathrooms were quite small, just two stalls and two showers in a second room past the sink/toilet room.

    So, the co-ed revolution hasn't hit every school yet.
  • circuitridercircuitrider Registered User Posts: 2,528 Senior Member
    Interesting turn in the conversation. I lived in the same dorms as @millie210 and, I'm stunned by how many colleges require students to keep the doors to their rooms shut at all times - even when they're inside and just seated at their desks.
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