Sometimes the most radical ideas are the most sensible For instance, take the recent decision by John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., to phase out co-ed dorms, returning to single-sex residence halls.
Garvey presented a fairly practical case for the move: Not unlike many colleges, there is a drinking problem on campus. And as Christopher Kaczor, professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, whom Garvey cites, has surmised: Increased binge drinking in co-ed living situations may be explained by a "'party' expectation that students fulfill. College males want to get females to drink more ... College men themselves drink more as 'liquid courage' to approach women and as part of the process of encouraging female drinking (for instance, with drinking games). In order to demonstrate 'equality' with male students and so as not to seem prudish, college females drink more than they otherwise would. Single-sex residences reduce this binge-drinking dynamic."
Single-sex dorms also, as you might expect, might just cut down on campus hook-up culture. A 2009 study in the Journal of American College Health found that students in co-ed dorms have more sex and more partners.
And, if you want to get even more practical, W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, points out: "Needless to say, binge drinking and casual sex tend to distract students from their studies. For instance, young women who engage in such activities are more likely to be depressed, and tend to do poorly in school when distracted by drinking and sex."
And so, of course, given our litigious age, CUA may be sued for its absolutely sane and sensible plan. A professor at nearby George Washington University says he plans to bring legal action, complaining the move would be sex discrimination.
"I think there are probably plenty of well-meaning folks out there who want the goods -- less hooking up, less drinking -- but believe heartily that any goods like that ought to be entirely an act of will, completely volitional amid the options to choose otherwise," says Mark Regnerus, co-author of the book "Premarital Sex in America."
He's also "not really surprised" by the lawsuit threat. "To some, anything like this is a signal of a 'return' of sorts to a past that its antagonists find stifling, constraining, etc. ... They fail to realize that people are very much social creatures in their decision-making, and that putting up some reasonable barriers like this one can be helpful toward reaching the goals they claim to want."
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