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Campus Overload
Posted at 12:42 PM ET, 06/14/2011

Catholic University reverts to single-sex dorms


(To read the full story that ran in Wednesday’s newspaper, click here.)

The president of Catholic University has decided to use a “slightly old-fashioned remedy” to curtail the binge-drinking and casual hook-up habits of students: Get rid of the coed dorms.

“I know it's countercultural,” wrote President John Garvey in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Monday.

Starting with the incoming class of freshmen this fall, the university will place women in all-female halls and men in all-male halls. The following school year, sophomore halls will follow suit. Then upperclassmen halls.

Only a handful of the university’s 17 dorms are single-sex, Garvey said, so it will take a few years to “complete the transformation.”

Most colleges began housing men and women under the same roof generations ago, and today more than 90 percent of college housing is coed, according to a 2008 study about coed housing.

Administrators have also loosened rules on overnight guests of the opposite sex, and a few schools now allow men and women to live in the same room or apartment as part of “gender-neutral housing” programs. Starting this fall, George Washington University will allow students to share a dorm room with anyone they want, regardless of gender.

Throughout these trends, Catholic University has kept some of the most strict housing rules in the region. Virtue and intellect are connected, Garvey wrote, so helping students make good ethical decisions allows them to better learn — and stay safe, healthy and out of trouble.

Several studies have found that students who live in coed dorms report weekly binge drinking more than twice as often as students in single-sex dorms, Garvey wrote. Coed dwellers are also more than twice as likely to have had three or more sexual partners in the past year.

“The point about sex is no surprise. The point about drinking is,” Garvey wrote. “I would have thought that young women would have a civilizing influence on young men. Yet the causal arrow seems to run the other way. Young women are trying to keep up — and young men are encouraging them (maybe because it facilitates hooking up).”

What do you think about this remedy? Will it help students live healthier lives? Tell me in the comments section.

By  |  12:42 PM ET, 06/14/2011

 
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