Catholic University returning to single-sex dorms
By Jenna Johnson, Published: June 14
The president of Catholic University has decided to use a “slightly old-fashioned remedy” in an effort to curtail the binge drinking and casual hookups of students: getting rid of the coed dorms.
“We just thought it was a more wholesome environment,” said John H. Garvey, who became president of Catholic last year. “A little separation is a healthy thing.”
Eleven of the university’s 17 residence halls are coed, so a campuswide transition will take a few years. This fall, the university will place most freshmen in all-women or all-men halls. The next school year, sophomore halls will go single-sex. Then upperclassmen halls.
The decision to return to single-sex dorms, after more than two decades, stunned many students and alumni, who have built friendships and memories in coed environments, although some people outside the university may have been surprised that it had coed dorms in the first place.
“It’s easier to make more friends when its coed,” said Rachel L. Martin, 19, who will be a sophomore this fall. “It’s not just the same cliques of girls on the floors.”
Even in its coed dorms, the university still assigned women and men to their own floors or wings — and strictly enforced “visiting hours.” Some questioned just what sort of impact the new policy would have.
“College people are going to be drinking regardless of if there’s a girl living above them or below them,” said Bill Durdach, who graduated in May and once oversaw a floor of 52 male freshmen in a coed dorm. As for same-sex dorms: “Their behavior isn’t any different. And sometimes it’s worse,” Durdach said.
The coed vs. single-sex debate harkens back at least a generation, and today most colleges house female and male students under the same roof. Some schools even allow those students to be roommates. George Washington University is one of the latest campuses to offer “gender-neutral housing,” which allows students to live with anyone they choose.