Co-ed Dorms: Sleeping Together


At least two dozen schools, including Brown University, The University of Pennsylvania, Oberlin College, Clark University, and the California Institute of Technology allow some or all students to share a room with anyone they choose—and we mean anyone. This spring, as students sign up for next year’s room, more schools are hoping on board, including Stanford.

Schools say it’s not about sex (although we’re not sure we are convinced). The schools say that most opposite sexed roommates are heterosexual and are good friends. The students say they even look away when their roommate is changing. But haven’t you heard of the expression good friends with benefits?

Co-ed rooms have also become popular with some gay students who feel more comfortable rooming with someone of the opposite sex.

The colleges say that the option isn’t being perverted (pardon the pun!). At UC Riverside, which has approximately 6,000 students in campus housing, only 50 have roommates of the opposite sex. But the school has had the option since 2005.

And what about couples shackin’ up?

Most schools introduced the couples option in the past three or four years. So far, relatively few students are taking part. At the University of Pennsylvania, which began offering co-ed rooms in 2005, about 120 out of 10,400 students took advantage of the option this year. And Brown explicitly discourages couples from living together on campus, whether they are gay or straight.

Parents don’t seem to be thrilled with these new housing options. If they approach you about it, here’s our advice: show them you are educated by saying that it was in the 1970s with the free-loving hippies and feminist movement that colleges broke the gender divide with co-ed dorms. And then tell ‘em “thanks” for paving the way.

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