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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

Arizona WBB looks to rebound at home against UC San Diego
Jason Dayee, Assistant Sports Editor • December 7, 2023

    Spin control: Gender-blind dorm policy not an LGBT issue

    Harvard University made waves last week when it announced it would be offering “”gender neutral”” dorm rooms, and the UA might even follow suit. Unfortunately, both universities are doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons.

    Friday, the Arizona Daily Wildcat reported that Residence Life has been taking nominal steps to accommodate transgender students who want to live in the residence halls. Single-stall bathrooms will soon be labeled “”gender neutral,”” and transgender students are offered single rooms if they feel uncomfortable living with roommates.

    This has caused some consternation on the part of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists, who rightly complain that transgender students are forced to decide between uncomfortable living situations and shelling out the extra cash to pay for single rooms. And the situation is only further complicated by homosexual students who say they would feel more comfortable living with someone of the opposite sex.

    None of this is especially new to the world of higher education; according to the National Student Genderblind Campaign, some 20 universities already allow some form of gender-neutral housing. And as far back as 1999, a student group at Tufts University led an unsuccessful charge to implement co-ed housing.

    Even so, the group had some spin control problems that should be avoided here at the UA. As Carl Sciortino, one of the group’s leaders, explained to The Boston Globe: “”There are roommate issues where homophobia becomes a major problem … (and) students in the past have found themselves having a major crush on their straight roommate, and that’s a really uncomfortable situation.””

    That kind of reasoning might play well in Boston, but UA students should hold themselves to a higher rhetorical standard: Co-ed dorm rooms are a student issue, not an LGBT one.

    If a homosexual or transgender student wants to live with someone of the opposite sex, that’s fine, but the same freedom should be extended to heterosexual students. Put simply, the issue is about the freedom of any student to choose his or her own living situation, not about liberalizing housing policy so that a few LGBT students will feel more comfortable.

    Unfortunately, Residence Life seems to be stuck in the mud. Residence Life Director Jim Van Arsdel told the Wildcat that the university will “”get there some day”” but “”a lot of that will depend on how other things in society envelope this issue.”” Translation: We’re not doing anything soon.

    But transformation doesn’t have to occur overnight. Residence Life could convert the smallest residence hall (Maricopa, at 107 beds) into a co-ed residence hall pilot program. Participating students should, of course, be required to sign consent forms, but Maricopa’s sleeping porches (a “”community room”” where all the residents sleep) would help to prevent against some of the lewder scenarios that might worry parents.

    Van Arsdel is right to point out that co-ed housing has been a phenomenon shared primarily by private institutions, but that’s a poor justification for inaction. The UA is already billed as “”Arizona’s First University””; it’s time for forward-looking administrators to live up to that moniker.

    Opinions Board
    Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Damion LeeNatali, Stan Molever, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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