The Coed Dorm Debate

Last week John Garvey, President of The Catholic University of America, wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal announcing an end to coed dorms at his school. (H/T: Soniya) Next year all entering freshmen will be assigned to single sex residence halls. After a few years, all dorms will be single sex.

“I believe that intellect and virtue are connected. They influence one another.

…”Virtue,” Aristotle [states], “makes us aim at the right mark, and practical wisdom makes us take the right means.” If he is right, then colleges and universities should concern themselves with virtue as well as intellect.

I want to mention two places where schools might direct that concern, and a slightly old-fashioned remedy that will improve the practice of virtue. The two most serious ethical challenges college students face are binge drinking and the culture of hooking up.”

To bolster his argument, President Garvey presents some not-so-fun facts about binge drinking:

  • Alcohol-related accidents are the leading cause of death for young adults aged 17-24.
  • Students who engage in binge drinking (about two in five) are 25 times more likely to do things like miss class, fall behind in school work, engage in unplanned sexual activity, and get in trouble with the law.
  • They also cause trouble for other students, who are subjected to physical and sexual assault, suffer property damage and interrupted sleep, and end up babysitting problem drinkers.

Hooking up has negative effects as well:

  • Rates of depression reach 20% for young women who have had two or more sexual partners in the last year, almost double the rate for women who have had none.
  • Sexually active young men do more poorly than abstainers in their academic work.

Currently, more than 90% of college housing in the U.S. is coed. Garvey cites some statistics that provide a comparison to single sex dorms:

  • Students in coed dorms (41.5%) report weekly binge drinking more than twice as often as students in single-sex housing (17.6%).
  • They are also more likely (55.7%) than students in single-sex dorms (36.8%) to have had a sexual partner in the last year—and more than twice as likely to have had three or more.

Critics have suggested these differences are largely a reflection of self-selection. Students who want to drink and carouse choose coed dorms. That is undoubtedly true, but I think it only strengthens Garvey’s argument. If students cannot stop themselves from making poor decisions when given the opportunity to do so, perhaps we should limit those opportunities.

The rise of hookup culture is generally attributed to court rulings in the 60s and 70s stating that colleges were no longer in loco parentis. “Colleges traditionally had the same rights and responsibilities as parents; the power to discipline the student as a parent could, but also the liability for harm that befell the student. Both the rights and responsibilities of in loco parentis began to recede as the Woodstock generation declared its independence. As the boomers asserted their freedoms at colleges and universities across the nation, in loco parentis fell away, and with it came a legal regime that treated colleges and universities as bystanders, rarely responsible for harms that befell students.”

Students were declared full-fledged adults, responsible for their own behavior. That didn’t stop Boomer parents from trying to hold colleges liable, however, and today colleges routinely suspend or even expel students for eating disorders or depression rather than be involved in supervising a student’s well-being. They have had little power, however, to control alcohol and sex-related debauchery.

Jezebel, in its own inflammatory hyperbolic fashion, responded to Garvey’s editorial with this headline:

Catholic University Reverts To Single-Sex Dorms Because Ladies Can’t Stop Being Slutty

 

“See ladies, this is your fault for not being able to resist male students’ attempts to get in your pants! Even worse, you’re now trying to keep up with men, who are promiscuous by nature. Of course when left to their own devices, heterosexual adult women usually hold tea parties in their dorm rooms rather than engaging in tawdry trysts with members of the opposite sex…

Apparently Garvey thinks students are only pursuing sex because it’s so incredibly easily to hook up with someone in the same building. When presented with the challenge of walking an extra 50 feet to the adjacent dorm, students will definitely give up their lascivious pursuits and hit the books.”

A student editorial at Georgetown isn’t any more substantive, simply reminding President Garvey that correlation does not imply causality, and whining that the effect on LGBT students wasn’t fully explored. (I’m not sure why this should be an issue – it sounds to me like they’ll just get a freebie. Or is that the problem?)

Are we right to question the ability of students to make the best choices for themselves? Like other issues causing problems for students on college campuses, including sexual assault and cheating, binge drinking and hooking up are arguably clearly not in a student’s best interest. To what extent should we permit, even encourage, students to make those poor choices? Should we hold students responsible for exercising good judgment and prudence? If we do, does it make a difference if drunken coeds are next door vs. across the quad?

Two young women here at HUS have shared with me their own stories of sexual assault as a result of a young man simply entering their rooms while they were asleep and raping them. If feminists are deeply concerned about sexual assault on college campuses, why are they not welcoming the opportunity to separate the sexes? Between this position and the slutwalks, it’s as if feminists want to put women in dangerous situations, while curtailing their ability to deflect assault, for political gain.

If feminists want women to be free to choose to have sex whenever they wish, I have no problem with it. But why should we balk if that requires a stroll over to the guys’ dorm? Is it sex on demand that we want and deserve, like a microwaveable pizza?

Stuart Schneiderman, who writes the blog Had Enough Therapy? wrote the following in his post Boys and Girls Together?:

18 year olds are barely adults. Their moral sense has just recently developed and, at times, their lack of experience shows. They know a lot more about being children than they do about being responsible adults.

Most, if not all, college students depend on their parents financially, and they still require guidance.

It is one thing to offer guidance that a child ignores; quite another to fail to offer any guidance at all.

 

I recall when my children were seniors in high school. At that time, co-ed sleepovers were all the rage. My children stamped their feet and railed that I was unreasonable for not letting them attend these all-night celebrations, with plenty of underage drinking fueling the shenanigans.

As I saw it, these parties were all downside. Of course, the kids assured me that they had good judgment, nothing would happen, etc. etc. I pointed out that even if they exercised good judgment, that didn’t mean others would. It just made no sense to put twenty 18 year-olds in a basement with a keg and hope for the best. Yet fast forward four months, and that’s exactly what they were all doing at college! When during the summer between high school and college does the mature decision-making switch get turned on?

Eric Barker highlighted a study that shows that teenage brains are very similar to those of drug addicts:

“Galvan found that teen brains can’t get pleasure out of doing things that are only mildly or moderately rewarding… Galvan noted that the response pattern of teen brains is essentially the same response curve of a seasoned drug addict. Their reward center cannot be stimulated by low doses—they need the big jolt to get pleasure.”

Scholastic’s website discusses in more detail the science of the teen brain in Teens and Decision Making: What Brain Science Reveals:

“Not long ago, scientists thought the human brain was fully mature long before the teen years. While research shows that one’s brain reaches its maximum size between ages 12 and 14 (depending on whether you are a girl or a boy), it also shows that brain development is far from complete. Regions of the brain continue to mature all the way through a person’s early 20s.

A key brain region that matures late is the prefrontal cortex, located directly behind your forehead. The prefrontal cortex is very important as a control center for thinking ahead and sizing up risks and rewards. (This area is, in fact, the little red light that was trying to warn you about sending that e-mail.) Meanwhile, another part of the brain that matures earlier is the limbic system, which plays a central role in emotional responses.

Since the limbic system matures earlier, it is more likely to gain an upper hand in decision making. This relationship between the emotional center (limbic system) and control center (prefrontal cortex) helps to explain a teen’s inclination to rush decisions. In other words, when teens make choices in emotionally charged situations, those choices are often more weighted in feelings (the mature limbic system) over logic (the not-yet-mature prefrontal cortex).

This is also why teens are more likely to make “bad” choices, such as using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco—all of which pose a risk of serious health consequences. “Most kids don’t really ‘plan’ to use drugs,” says Professor Laurence Steinberg of Temple University, “at least not the first time. They are more likely to experiment on the spur of the moment, particularly when influenced by others [peer pressure].”

We’ve learned a great deal about adolescent brains in the last 50 years. Clearly, 18 year-olds are, in fact, not fully fledged adults. Sociologists have recently been redefining adolescence as a period that may last until age 26. Shouldn’t this discovery be reflected in our policies and practices?

Will single sex dorms eliminate hooking up? Of course not. People who want to have sex can still walk across the quad to get it. Will it stop underage drinking? Nothing has worked yet to curb bingeing in college, there’s no reason to think single sex dorms will. But if we do what little we can to keep our children out of harm’s way, from situations with no upside, we encourage prudent behavior.

So you just can’t stop yourself from entering a girl’s room and pouncing on her while she’s sleeping? Perhaps that decision will seem less reasonable in the sober light of day, and you’ll be glad you had no access.

Your roommate is sexiling you every single weekend with random dudes from down the hall? Maybe sex in dorm rooms should require the consent of all three people affected by the decision.

As readers here are fond of saying, the toothpaste isn’t going back into the tube. This will not signal the end of hooking up or binge drinking. Students determined to have those experiences will surely find ways to do so. We did back in the 70s – it really wasn’t hard. I think there is value, though, in setting students up for success by anticipating some of the many things that can go wrong, and providing the safest, sanest environment for learning and growth that we can.

Parents can’t do it alone, and neither can colleges. We must work together to share this responsibility to protect our young people. I commend John Garvey for arguing the connection between intellect and virtue, and for taking action that will certainly help some students and save some lives. I hope his fellow university presidents will follow in his footsteps.

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  • http://chuckthisblog.wordpress.com Joe

    Great article, Susan.

    I didn’t go to Catholic U, but just post Woodstock (and just a little before you attended college, I gather), I did attend an ostensibly northeastern Catholic university in the Philadelphia area. I say ostensibly because Catholicism was honored more in the breach by the students. We certainly knew what in loco parentis meant.

    The drinking age was 18, the dorms were single sex and dalliances were rare, if not unheard of, pretty much as it’s always been.

    The drinking age was 18? Yes it was. There was a little too much of it – too much for our health and safety, probably. But we had a ready reason. Vietnam.

    “If we’re old enough to fight and die in a war, we’re old enough to drink.” I always thought that point was valid. If (BIG IF!) someone is old enough to drink, drive, vote, die in a war, then, why not single sex dorms? The answer is still, YOU ARE NOT READY!

    That’s what it’s come down too, with all sorts of statistics proving the case (especially driving fatalities). I’m not going to blame the 18 year olds for not being ready for the world the way it is before I blame the parents AND the schools for failing them. But regardless, it’s no longer wise to allow them the same privileges and responsibilities that we enjoyed at 18; sometimes it’s deadly.

    Almost always it’s detrimental.

  • Lavazza

    For a Swede attending uni in the eighties this sounds weird. We had single occupancy dorms, of course with lock and key. And we could hold our liquor. Me and all my friends were binge drinking at least twice a week and never missed classes or had any real troubles, maybe due to taking some precautions, like drinking heavily early in the night and then just having water and sodas from 23-24 and on. We were slightly older since we graduated from high school at 19 and then spent a year in the compulsory military service (and the girls would often take a gap year as au pairs), but I doubt that this means that much.

  • Doug1

    Frats and sororities are single sex residences. They’re known for having more hooking up than average coed dorms on campuses where there’s a lot of them.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Doug1

      Frats and sororities are single sex residences. They’re known for having more hooking up than average coed dorms on campuses where there’s a lot of them.

      I don’t think this point holds. First, Greek residences are single sex, but without any chaperones, rules or supervision. It’s a total free for all, with couples having sex in whatever bed happens to be available at the time. Colleges generally give frats free reign until something bad happens.

      Second, frats are known for hosting nearly all the parties on campus, and are often the sole providers of alcohol for underage kids. So to the extent that binge drinking fuels hooking up, kids find themselves in this inebriated state inside a frat house.

      Third, Greeks self-select for hard-core partying and binge drinking. I think it’s fair to say that the average single sex dorm bears zero resemblance to the average frat house. Sorority houses are a different story – they sometimes do have a House Mother, and are usually not the preferred spot for a hookup. It’s always the guy’s turf, which is why the walk of shame is a female privilege.

  • Renee

    I attended Hampton University (’08 grad, Virginia), an HBCU (historically black college or university), and I can think of only one dorm that was co-ed. The rest were either all female and all male. Thinking back, I have to admit to understanding the arguement for single-sex dorms. I’m thinking that you’re able to focus more, and there is a lack of temptation.

    About college liability, interestingly enough me and my parents got into the discussion of colleges that instill curfews (only to Freshmen in my experience). I mentioned that I couldn’t understand why colleges really would do such a thing. To paraphrase, they said that students still needed supervision and guidance, or something like that lol. But I’m thinking that it especially has to do with liability in regards to the college in question.

  • Miles Anderson

    “the toothpaste isn’t going back into the tube”

    This is the reason for my big yawn. I think it is great that things are being tried. But I suspect his is more about seeming to do something then really expecting to have an effect. The answer for most problems isn’t behind you. And given the non-stationary nature of culture it is even less likely to be behind you (at least directly). I don’t expect trying yesterdays solution to just magically work in todays environment.

    I find the use of the word “virtue” to be annoying. If you put somebody in a cave for a decade that wouldn’t increase their virtue. We just wouldn’t know. They didn’t get to make many interesting ethical decisions. (Keeping people from drinking until they are 18/21 and then opening the flood gates appears to actually be counter productive if you look around the world. Darn, that cave didn’t work.) The same with same sex vs co-ed dorms. We might help people not make mistakes until they get older but we won’t make them more virtuous. If you want to help somebody be more virtuous then you help them practice making those decisions. Amusingly enough this college getting rid of the christian double think would probably be the biggest ticket item for most people in reaching this end.

  • GudEnuf

    When presented with the challenge of walking an extra 50 feet to the adjacent dorm, students will definitely give up their lascivious pursuits and hit the books.”

    I wouldn’t doubt it. I’ve talked to professors who say that when their offices were moved up the stairs, students stopped dropping by to visit. Trivial inconveniences can dramatically alter behavior.

  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

    Wait a second….

    “Apparently Garvey thinks students are only pursuing sex because it’s so incredibly easily to hook up with someone in the same building. When presented with the challenge of walking an extra 50 feet to the adjacent dorm, students will definitely give up their lascivious pursuits and hit the books.”

    Well if his efforts aren’t going to make a difference, why is anyone getting upset about this? By protesting, they end up proving Garvey’s point.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Nate Winchester, @Gud Enuf

      Well if his efforts aren’t going to make a difference, why is anyone getting upset about this? By protesting, they end up proving Garvey’s point.

      Exactly! What is the perceived “loss” here? Women who choose to have sex can still get it with very little effort. The feminist stance on this issue, which is the same re slutty dress and behavior, is one that promotes flirting with danger. Walk right up to the line but don’t cross it till I say so. It’s a form of teasing and it’s a power play. Again I’m wondering if certain personality traits – high neuroticism, low agreeableness, high risk-seeking, high novelty-seeking – are to be found consistently among these women. If so, we should be very careful about letting them influence policy for all women.

      If we separate the sexes in dorms, accusations of sexual assault will drop dramatically. Yet that result would be unwelcome if the method that achieved it compromised female sexual empowerment. Does everyone see how effed up this is? The concern is not about protecting women, it’s about targeting men. It’s one big game of Gotcha!

  • Jimmy Hendricks

    We might help people not make mistakes until they get older but we won’t make them more virtuous. If you want to help somebody be more virtuous then you help them practice making those decisions.

    Exactly. You’re just delaying the inevitable, rather than establishing any kind of legitimate changes.

    The way I see it: Either you’re an adult, or you’re not. You can’t pick rights and responsibilities ala carte (that goes for students, parents, and schools). Pick a role and stick with it 100%, not some half-assed version. Needless to say, I’m not a fan at all of in loco parentis. I’m a firm believer in natural consequences.

    Observations from my own personal experience:

    I went to a state university with a huge party school reputation. Lived in coed dorms my two years on campus, one year on a coed floor, and the other on an all-male floor. I didn’t really see any difference in the dynamics between them. And as much of a hard partying school as we were, nothing much ever really happened in the dorms. We went off campus to party and came back to sleep.

    As far as single-sex dorms, those were an option, with one for each sex (which I think is the best way to go about this. Let the customers decide). From what I remember, nobody from my social circles (plenty of guys and girls) ever really knew anyone from either single-sex dorm. Maybe that’s what they wanted.

  • The Deuce

    Two young women here at HUS have shared with me their own stories of sexual assault as a result of a young man simply entering their rooms while they were asleep and raping them. If feminists are deeply concerned about sexual assault on college campuses, why are they not welcoming the opportunity to separate the sexes?

    <feminist-logic>
    Susan, how DARE you blame the female victims rape by insinuating that they could have prevented it by choosing to live in single sex dorms! The only way to prevent rape is to genetically reprogram men so that they are unable to attain erections without asking a woman’s permission!!
    </feminist-logic>

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @TheDeuce
      So good to see you! Are you a dad yet?

  • OhioStater

    The Aristotle book cited is the Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle also argues behavioral virtue is obtained through habit, meaning deprived behavior leads to deprived behavior and temperate behavior leads to temperate behavior. Everyone possesses these virtues, he says, just as a baby has vision but no appreciation of sight.

    He also argues young people can’t debate political science since the subject matter, first principles, and premises are acquired through experience, of which the young have none.

    It is one thing to commit an act if the authority is indifferent, and another if the authority says its wrong. Adults should trust they’re making better quality decisions than their kids. This decision will improve the quality of many lives.

  • Stephenie Rowling

    One of the things that bothers me about this studies is that I was an adult already at 17, I mean I had grown and learned since then, but I could tell to myself that doing certain things just because was stupid and that has been my view since that age. According to science my brain was not equipped to do that and yet you can ask my mother I was totally capable of owning my own life without engaging in risky behavior, so unless I’m a mutant something else most be going on that makes teenagers of this days not being able to be like their peers of other cultures and in the last 50 years. Because if you read how many great things men and women did adult things while they were very young in the past, the brain evidence seem highly suspicious…or is the water supply again.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Stephenie
      Well, young people, and all people for that matter, are going to fall on a spectrum. The valedictorian of the high school is probably not the kid getting high and stealing cars. Personality traits, parental involvement, socioeconomic status – all of these things can impact youth tremendously. I don’t know about your family’s means while you were growing up, but you obviously had strong family influence and strong values.

      My kids are very different from one another – at 24 my son is not nearly as mature as my 21 yo daughter. And they both have had good solid backup in all the important areas.

  • http://www.yohami.com YOHAMI

    the horror!

  • The Deuce

    So good to see you! Are you a dad yet?

    Four days overdue now. Could happen at any moment!

  • Todd

    Personally, I don’t see what the big fuss is. My brother, like Renee, went to Hampton, lived in a single-sex dorm and got into all sorts of trouble. On the flip side, I knew someone who was sexually assaulted by a drunk guy just walking into their room and taking advantage.

    I think the whole single-sex dorm thing is much ado about nothing, especially in this modern era of internet and smartphone communications. All it takes is the right tweet, text, IM or email, and the action is on and popping. If anything, the complaints about it makes me wonder how much sex is going on that is so impulsive that walking across the quad would kill off the ardor. If someone is THAT impulsive, they have bigger issues than a single-sex dorm.

    That said, I do agree with you Susan on the traits of some of these women. I’m with the cause broadly, in that men with similar traits aren’t punished, and people should be free to choose their own paths in life. What they shouldn’t be able to do is impose their standard on everyone else.

  • http://Photoncourier.blogspot.com David foster

    Delayed maturity probably does have something to do with wired-in brain development rates, but surely it also has much to do with individual experiences. Year upon year of nothing but school can not, for most people, be conducive to the development of emotional maturity.

    Someone who was supporting himself at 18 and became an infantry squad leader at 21 is going to have a very different sense of responsibility from someone who has spent those years sitting in classrooms.

  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

    One of the things that bothers me about this studies is that I was an adult already at 17, I mean I had grown and learned since then, but I could tell to myself that doing certain things just because was stupid and that has been my view since that age. According to science my brain was not equipped to do that and yet you can ask my mother I was totally capable of owning my own life without engaging in risky behavior, so unless I’m a mutant something else most be going on that makes teenagers of this days not being able to be like their peers of other cultures and in the last 50 years. Because if you read how many great things men and women did adult things while they were very young in the past, the brain evidence seem highly suspicious…or is the water supply again.

    So was I. There’s obviously going to be some individual variation.
    Though I sometimes wonder how much the brain might be like other muscles. Just as the person who exercises regularly doesn’t look exactly the same as the slob, so too perhaps the person who’s mind is exercised regularly is different from one who never thinks at all.

    @David Foster: Yes exactly!

    The feminist stance on this issue, which is the same re slutty dress and behavior, is one that promotes flirting with danger. … Again I’m wondering if certain personality traits – high neuroticism, low agreeableness, high risk-seeking, high novelty-seeking – are to be found consistently among these women.

    Reminds me of this one time on my blog… (just check the comments)
    Led to an entertaining twitter war that I didn’t participate in. I think that disappointed them.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Nate W
      I just went over and read your Scott Pilgrim post – yeah you attracted the crazy sex pozzies. They must all have Google alerts on the word consent. I do not understand why they don’t understand the stupidity of tempting fate. And I also don’t understand why they can’t see that teasing or deliberately blue balling is bitchy. Yes, you can change your mind, fine, but have some empathy for the guy at least.

  • http://badgerhut.wordpress.com Badger

    “The only way to prevent rape is to genetically reprogram men so that they are unable to attain erections without asking a woman’s permission!!”
    .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zardoz

  • http://badgerhut.wordpress.com Badger

    Susan and Stephenie may want to check out this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Escaping-Endless-Adolescence-Teenagers-Before/dp/0345507894/

    In it two UVA psychologists argue that teenagers do not have “malformed brains,” hormonal imbalances or other physiological defects. In fact the late-teen’s brain is the most capable a human will ever have. They argue that studies and historical records (15-year olds were ship captains at some points in history, for heaven’s sake) highly suggest that culture, nurture, expectations and pack structure have huge influences on young people’s decision-making skills and risk tolerance.

    That conclusion obviously means that our culture has a lot to answer for in literally creating the social disasters we see among the young.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Badger

      In it two UVA psychologists argue that teenagers do not have “malformed brains,” hormonal imbalances or other physiological defects.

      Whoa, that’s not what the brain science research was saying. It was simply a matter of the cerebral cortex catching up to the limbic system, something that doesn’t happen until the early 20s. Are you really going to argue that teenagers have excellent judgment?

      Obviously, throughout history teens have done the work of men and women. But how far back do you want to go? 14 yo were mothers, but life expectancy was 40. Young drummers were mowed down in the Civil War. Teen monarchs were considered problematic and in need of wise elders for counsel in Europe hundreds of years ago. In Nathaniel Philbrick’s book In the Heart of the Sea the teen hands were young whippersnappers who were useful but not capable of decision-making.

      I don’t deny that we’ve coddled our teens into complacency and entitlement, but I still question whether they’re fully capable of making decisions that are not impetuous, i.e. driven by emotion.

  • Doug1

    Susan–

    1) I think there’s very little likelihood that this Catholic University initiative will catch on a more secular universities.

    2) I believe the original idea of co-ed dorms was that they would facilitate more average attractiveness and more serious students of opposite sexes finding each other for relationships. I seriously wonder whether co-ed dorms are really strong generators or inducers towards the hook up culture that’s common now on uni campuses, esp. big state universities of medium range selectiveness it seems. I tend to think they still more tend to serve the original purpose than facilitating no relationship hook ups.

    3) from what I can tell the main reason for hook up culture is a) sex pozzy feminism’s widespread influence on uni campuses, and b) the almost 60/40 or 50% more girls than guys sex ratio at medium and lower selectivity state university etc. campuses.

  • Doug1

    Susan–

    I am however a big fan of same sex classrooms at the junior high and high school level. I think that’s better for the learning experience of both sexes.

    I went to private junior high and high schools myself. The junior high was a local country day school that had girls on the same school grounds, just in sex segregated classes from 6th grade on. Or maybe it was 5th grade. My high school was a leading N. England boarding school. We had weekend dances with girls prep schools, maybe every other weekend. Sadly now coed due to feminist pressures.

  • SayWhaat

    Susan et al re: same-sex education

    Do you guys think that co-ed education offers any benefits such as girls and boys learning to cooperate/work with each other? Being able to socialize with the opposite sex effectively? Just wondering…

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      Do you guys think that co-ed education offers any benefits such as girls and boys learning to cooperate/work with each other? Being able to socialize with the opposite sex effectively? Just wondering…

      Yes, I know it does. I’ve mentioned before that my daughter went to a small, all-girls middle and high school. Her senior class was 63 girls. This was phenomenal academically, and also in other ways. For example, she chose this school over a very good coed one because when she visited she loved how goofy and un-self-conscious the girls were during Drama. At any all-girls school it wasn’t lame to be in the Chorus, play violin, etc. And the sports were good, and there were levels for anyone who wanted to play. All good.

      On the other hand, she began complaining about lack of male acquaintances when she was in middle school. Dances and plays with brother schools were held, but interaction was stilted – these kids really didn’t know each other. By the time she was a junior in high school, she was truly unhappy not to have many guy friends or cross-sex interactions. As readers of this blog know, when she and her friends got old enough to drive, meet up, etc. they were in for a rude awakening. The guys wanted to go straight to blow jobs, not sharing an ice cream soda.

      She still wishes she’d gone to a coed high school, but I suspect this feeling will change over time, and she would even consider single sex education for her own daughter.

  • Jimmy Hendricks

    Do you guys think that co-ed education offers any benefits such as girls and boys learning to cooperate/work with each other? Being able to socialize with the opposite sex effectively? Just wondering…

    I went to a all-male high school, and have a lot of thoughts on the subject. Be warned, this will probably have a lot of rambling from point to point:

    I don’t think co-ed education necessarily has any “negatives,” but I do honestly think that same-sex education provides more benefits to its students. As I said, I went to an all-male high school, and still consider it to be one of the best decisions of my life.

    No matter how much feminists will scream against it, boys and girls have very different learning/communication styles. In grade school I felt babied, but in HS I felt challenged. It also helped that most of my teachers in HS were men (In my 9 years in grade school from K-8, I only had one male teacher. ONE. Go ahead, guess who my favorite teacher was in those 9 years.). Now that I think about it, most of the favorite teachers over the years were men, and most of the teachers I despised were women. There were definitely exceptions in both cases, and plenty of both gender in the middle of the bell curve, but now that I actually think about it,it’s a definite trend on the extreme ends.

    Male teachers seemed to have an easier time motivating me, challenging me, earning my respect, etc. I think the “coach” archetype is one that most young men are positively drawn to. A somewhat common story seems to be the process of troubled young men turning their life around through the support, motivation, and leadership of an athletic coach who serves the role of a father figure that they never had (Coach Carter was a great movie depicting this. One of my all-time favorites). It really illustrates how the marginalization of fathers has been disastrous for our society.

    Building on that, I think our society needs to figure out ways to make teaching a more man-friendly profession, especially in young education. How that can be accomplished, I have no idea. Just thinking out loud.

    In my hometown, most of the same sex schools have partnerships with the opposite sex schools for the socializing/cooperation aspect. A few even share a single class a week, etc. That seems to be a good way to accomplish both sides of the co-ed/single sex debate.

    Susan, I can’t remember if it was you or someone else that mentioned their son went to an all-male school in his earlier years (pre-HS). That intrigues me, because it’s something I’ve never seen personally in any of the cities that I’ve lived in or traveled to. And to be honest, the more I think about it the more I wish I would’ve had that opportunity. When I think back to grade school, the boys and girls at my school never really socialized with each other much until we were about 11 or 12 anyway.

    Maybe a solution is to separate classes by sex up until 6th grade, and have a common recess & lunch together, maybe throw in a co-ed art or music class too. Encourage the schools to have male teachers for the boys (I can hear the feminists shrieking already).

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Jimmy Hendricks

      Susan, I can’t remember if it was you or someone else that mentioned their son went to an all-male school in his earlier years (pre-HS). That intrigues me, because it’s something I’ve never seen personally in any of the cities that I’ve lived in or traveled to. And to be honest, the more I think about it the more I wish I would’ve had that opportunity. When I think back to grade school, the boys and girls at my school never really socialized with each other much until we were about 11 or 12 anyway.

      Yeah, that was me. When my son finished second grade, we yanked him out of public school due to the highly biased/pro-girl agenda we found there. We put him in an all-boys school that went from K-9, although he left after 6. It was a great experience. They knew boys, loved boys, and the curriculum was specifically designed for boys. All the literature was stuff boys wanted to read. All the assignments were appropriate for boys.

      The expectations around behavior were also calibrated for boys. There were 2-3 recesses during the day, and even the little guys played sports after school.

      I will say that the intrasexual competition re pecking order got pretty brutal as the boys approached puberty. My son was a late bloomer, and he was literally being tossed around and bullied by the high T boys who were shaving in 7th grade. Perhaps this happens in coed schools too, but it was probably worse in an all-male environment.

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  • mgambale

    @ Susan

    Perhaps the intrasexual competition at your son’s all-boys school might have been even more intense if girls were thrown into the mix. Wouldn’t the incentive to display dominance have been even higher? I was under the impression that separating the sexes tended to mitigate intrasexual competition.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @mgambale
      OMG, I was just thinking of you the other day! I am so happy to see you, it’s been quite awhile! I know it’s natural for blogs to have a bunch of turnover, but it really makes me so happy when readers I’m fond of circle back around.

      I think you’re probably right – it probably would have been even worse with girls in the mix. Interestingly, when my son moved to a coed school for 7-12, he gained status by appealing to girls. He was on the small side, yes, but he had a very cute face, and quite a few girls at his new school crushed on him. This was a very welcome change after the difficulties in 6th grade.

      Of course, as a beta boy, he was completely overwhelmed by the attention from these rather precocious 13 year-olds. After canoodling with a 6′ ballerina at a school dance (he was 5’8″), he hurriedly got a nice, shy, girlfriend.

  • Jason

    I think that a lot of things in the last 100 years or so have been destroyed in the name of Feminism. Single sex-schools aren’t the norm any more. Women/Girls being feminine is bad, etc.

    I think we wouldn’t be poorly served in getting rid of the majority of what the Feminist movement did. Not Women’s Suffrage. Feminism.

    I had this revelation the other day that Renaissance man had women exactly right, and Feminists weren’t very happy with that (Hamsters Uber Alles.) We’ve looked back at that now and with the exception of sociological changes, women are the same creatures that those Renaissance philosophers and Natural Scientists understood so well.

    An aside: Had a good conversation/debate with a woman here in Riga, Latvia this weekend who had swallowed the whole “I Want It All” feminist message hook, line and sinker. She’s the first one I’ve met here (in ~4 months), but she exists. Most are great traditional girls, but it’s creeping in. If we don’t blow Feminism out of the water soon, even Eastern Europe isn’t safe.

    I plan to get mine soon. :)

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Jason
      Are you Latvian, or did you emigrate there for the women?

  • GudEnuf

    I do not understand why they don’t understand the stupidity of tempting fate.

    Feminists know exactly how stupid it is to “tempt fate” (by which you mean wear slutty clothes). They are trying to make it less risky and hence, less stupid.

    By analogy: I believe it is stupid for a Mormon to tell a potential employer they are a Mormon, given the amount of discrimination against Mormons. But I don’t think we should live in a world where Mormons have to “prudently” hide their faith. Discrimination is wrong, just like rape and people shouldn’t blame the victims when it happens.

    I think I know why you hate slutwalks, and it’s not a good reason. Women who dress slutty signal their intent to engage in sexual behavior–tonight. Sure some women are teases, but I think you’ll agree with me that there’s a pretty good correlation between how a women dresses and whether she has a 1NS. Rape culture discourages women from making that signal. If a woman signals she’s down-to-fuck, she risks getting raped and blamed for that rape.

    You do not think women should signal their down-to-fuck intentions, because it moves the SMP away from what you think it should be. You like the fact that rape culture discourages slutty dress, and you don’t want slutwalks to take it away. You effective want to scare sluts into dressing better. That’s kind of scary.

  • Stephenie Rowling

    I think I know why you hate slutwalks, and it’s not a good reason. Women who dress slutty signal their intent to engage in sexual behavior–tonight. Sure some women are teases, but I think you’ll agree with me that there’s a pretty good correlation between how a women dresses and whether she has a 1NS. Rape culture discourages women from making that signal. If a woman signals she’s down-to-fuck, she risks getting raped and blamed for that rape.You do not think women should signal their down-to-fuck intentions, because it moves the SMP away from what you think it should be. You like the fact that rape culture discourages slutty dress, and you don’t want slutwalks to take it away. You effective want to scare sluts into dressing better. That’s kind of scary.

    Wow totally disagree with this, if the signals were done in a way that women wouldn’t ended up in situations were they get raped more often than not Susan and us wouldn’t care less, but more often than not the rape accusations come from the slutty dressed woman that had one to many drinks and ended up making poor decisions. Who in their right mind would want a person they love to engage in behavior that could end getting rape in the name of reclaiming a word? Really the slutwalks just create collateral damage and I don’t know about you but I don’t want anyway to end up raped to prove a point. I rather have people safe. Men from getting falsely accused of rape because a woman can’t remember if she was consenting or not or because she is pissed off because the guy didn’t called again and for women never go into a situation that will end up with a horrible trauma maybe for the rest of their lives.
    You cannot scare rapists into not raping just dressing slutty that is nonsense is like going to a bad neighborhood with all your jewels and your money in display.
    If anything you are projecting your idea that anyone that tells a woman that certain actions are unwise are doing it for personal gain or prejudice, is called common sense. You don’t go swimming in a infested by shark waters wearing a meat swimsuit do you?

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @GudEnuf, @Stephenie

      Really the slutwalks just create collateral damage and I don’t know about you but I don’t want anyway to end up raped to prove a point. I rather have people safe.

      This is the point. I wrote a post which included video of Amanda Marcotte agreeing that prudent behavior is necessary, and that women already know that. She characterized the slutwalks as “funny,” and about the word slut, not safety.

      Feminists know exactly how stupid it is to “tempt fate” (by which you mean wear slutty clothes). They are trying to make it less risky and hence, less stupid.

      That is a fail. Dressing slutty does not reduce risk for women. The feminist objective, as always, depends on reeducating men. It’s a non-starter. Feminists hate male nature, and want to change it. Failing that, they want to make men go right up to the line but not cross it, and when they do, feminists yell Gotcha! There is no doubt in my mind that slutty dress accompanies binge drinking accompanies hooking up with randoms accompanies sex in a blackout state. That is one hell of a lot of risks being assumed by the female.

      You may recall my post about the woman who started her evening by taking 6 shots of vodka, went to another party without any friends, got in a car with three varsity athletes she didn’t know, willingly entered an apartment with them, willingly went upstairs with them, willingly engaged in sexual behavior with them, and was raped by one of them in a closet.

      So, GudEnuf, does she bear any responsibility? Answer this question please – you have a tendency to register your objection and then disappear for the follow up.

  • Jimmy Hendricks

    Perhaps the intrasexual competition at your son’s all-boys school might have been even more intense if girls were thrown into the mix. Wouldn’t the incentive to display dominance have been even higher? I was under the impression that separating the sexes tended to mitigate intrasexual competition.

    I’d have to agree with this. Obviously every situation is different, but I think any time you add girls into the mix, guys are going to compete even harder with each other to establish dominance, including acts of bullying.

    As I said earlier, in my grade school days it seemed like the girls and boys never really socialized much till about 5th or 6th grade. Both genders usually segregated themselves at lunch & recess, and rarely hung out outside of school.

    That all got turned on its head at about the time we were 11 or 12. The social grouping dichotomy went from boys/girls, to popular kids (dominant guys, attractive girls)/unpopular kids (non-dominant guys, unattractive girls), there started to be more dominance plays & bullying from both sexes, etc. I never really thought about much about this before (just figured it was common teenage behavior), but now that I understand evolutionary psychology and social dynamics it all makes perfect sense.

  • Stephenie Rowling

    Personality traits I don’t know about your family’s means while you were growing up, but you obviously had strong family influence and strong values.

    So was I. There’s obviously going to be some individual variation.

    Probably, probably. I will still like to see more extensive studies around the world. Is very likely that the monotonous unchallenged environment with small to no cost for mistake (or rewards mistake such as getting more attention when you are a “victim”) could affect the brain. I mean we are adaptable entities thus I wouldn’t be surprise if the environment is a factor in maturity rate.

  • whiteboykrispy

    From my own experience, there isn’t much intra-dorm hooking up, at least at bigger schools (D-1, D-1AA). Seriously, no one I know pulled a girl from the same dorm. Plus, the way that dorms are laid out, the only way you could really meet girls from the same dorm would be if they had their door open or you talked to them at the dining center.

    There is enough other places, and better places at that, to meet girls outside of dorms so I don’t particularly see this having statistically significant effect on the hoking up.

    In fact, I would argue that requiring everyone to live in a dorm would significantly decrease hooking up. Having your own place like a house or an apartment makes bringing back girls so much easier.

    Side Note: My school had two all-girls dorms, and that only made it a pain in the ass if you wanted to get some chicks notes since someone had to let you in. For hooking up, they would just stay at the dudes place.

    Final thought: “Sexually active young men do more poorly than abstainers in their academic work.”

    Ha yeah, this is a killer, and I would say me and the crew went a little overboard this year. When you’re busy swinging girls by the place and going out 4 nights a week, homework and tests lose their importance pretty quickly. Good thing my first 3 years I had built up a 3.8… I would caution most dudes who aren’t seniors with good GPAs to really watch the womanizing so your grades don’t dwindle too badly.

  • Jason

    @Susan: Neither, I came here to grow my business. The women are an incredible added bonus however. Sadly I’m leaving in a couple of weeks.

  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

    Feminists know exactly how stupid it is to “tempt fate” (by which you mean wear slutty clothes). They are trying to make it less risky and hence, less stupid.

    (then why not re-institute chaperoning?)

    Your point is rather like saying “oh we want to stop thieving completely so people don’t have to lock their doors”. A noble goal, but an impossible one. Which is more feasible: trying to change everyone else or changing yourself? This isn’t about “victim-blaming”, it’s about affecting the only part of the world you have any control and power over. It’s about choosing a strategy that has a chance of winning vs one that is always guaranteed to fail.

  • http://www.nomadicneill.com NomadicNeill

    The only way the USA can tackle this ‘problem’ is by getting over their puritanical views on sex, drugs and alcohol.

    Where I grew up in Europe the legal drinking age is 16, at universities are co-ed (single occupancy rooms). That country has far less binge-drinking, problem drug use, teenage pregnancy and average age of people starting to have sex is around 17 I believe.

    Kids in the US need proper education, in stead they get to here “drugs, alcohol and sex are bad m’kay”, no wonder they go of the rails as soon as they can.

  • http://www.nomadicneill.com NomadicNeill

    Should be:

    “all university dorms are co-ed”

    and

    “they get to HEAR: drugs, alcohol and sex are bad m’kay”

  • Maura

    Maybe sex in dorm rooms should require the consent of all three people affected by the decision.

    According to the rules of most dorms it does. PUtting it into practice is difficult. The roommate getting some may not want to discuss it with their roomy before handand the roommate not getting any may not like it but feel like it woul dbe mean to say “no, don’t do this here or now.”

    @NOmaidcNeill
    The UK has a HUGE problem with youth binge drinking(though less associated with college) so it is not an American factor alone. Maybe it is a result of the culture of the Anglosphere.

  • Dogsquat

    David Foster:

    “Delayed maturity probably does have something to do with wired-in brain development rates, but surely it also has much to do with individual experiences. Year upon year of nothing but school can not, for most people, be conducive to the development of emotional maturity.

    Someone who was supporting himself at 18 and became an infantry squad leader at 21 is going to have a very different sense of responsibility from someone who has spent those years sitting in classrooms.”

    Dude, I can’t agree with you more. Here’s perhaps a little refinement of your point:

    In my more charitable moments, I (a former 21 year old infantry squad leader) realize that I’d be just like some of the irresponsible kids in my classes, except I had a job that was one of the hardest and most unforgiving there is. If I fucked up, my friends would die horribly. Even if you do everything right, one of your buddies might die/lose a limb/be blind/be burned beyond recognition. You only have to see it once to become very, very serious about your profession – age doesn’t have a lot to do with it. Consequences, Dear Reader, trump all.

    Lest anyone think I needlessly lionize the military, here’s a saying I believe is more true than not:

    “Take an average Lance Corporal. Lock him in a room with three bowling balls. Come back in 24 hours – he’ll have lost one bowling ball, broken the second, and the third one will be pregnant.”

    Late teen/early twenties folks will do as they are going to do, and much of what we look at as “maturity” or “good decision making” is merely response to outside pressure/the environment they’re in. No immediate, severe consequences, and the id is unleashed.

  • Chuck Pelto

    — had a simple—albeit ‘harsh’— response to this sort of behavior.

    The perps were taken out and SHOT before the assembled company…..

    ….by their company commanders.

    Heh….

    ….have ‘fun’ kiddies…..

  • Miley Cyrax

    @whiteboykrispy
    “From my own experience, there isn’t much intra-dorm hooking up, at least at bigger schools (D-1, D-1AA). Seriously, no one I know pulled a girl from the same dorm. Plus, the way that dorms are laid out, the only way you could really meet girls from the same dorm would be if they had their door open or you talked to them at the dining center….

    In fact, I would argue that requiring everyone to live in a dorm would significantly decrease hooking up. Having your own place like a house or an apartment makes bringing back girls so much easier.”

    I disagree. Same sex dorms provides much better logistics and transitioning. You both have plausible deniability going into the same building after a party, as opposed to risking a momentum-killer in inviting a girl come to your building/place to, say, “watch a movie.” It’s easier to set-up pregames and thus venue shifts with girls who live in your building.

    And plus de facto booty calls are thus much easier, having only to walk down the hall or take the elevator as opposed commuting outside (psychologically it feels a lot more arduous). You could come across as desperate if you drive across town for a girl, but it’s much more natural if you just “swing by” her room downstairs to “chat” for a bit. Inversely, a girl might be reluctant to come across town for you, but would be down to “stop by” your room and “chill.”

    “Final thought: “Sexually active young men do more poorly than abstainers in their academic work.”

    Ha yeah, this is a killer, and I would say me and the crew went a little overboard this year. When you’re busy swinging girls by the place and going out 4 nights a week, homework and tests lose their importance pretty quickly. Good thing my first 3 years I had built up a 3.8… I would caution most dudes who aren’t seniors with good GPAs to really watch the womanizing so your grades don’t dwindle too badly.”

    On this I agree. When the possibility of going out to get fresh pussy is omnipresent, it’s easy to take your eye off the ball when it comes to grades.

  • Jules

    Ugh! I am tired of these comments insinuating that college students are not adult enough/ responsible enough/ cerebral-y developed enough to make their own decisions. I know a lot of adults who say things like, “When I was in college I drank and smoked pot and had sex so I don’t want my kid to do those things.” That sounds hypocritical to me- “I had these experiences but you can’t have them.” I know that they only want their kids to avoid “making the same mistakes they did” but those “mistakes” are experiences that you learn from. When are you going to let your kids live their lives if not after they graduate high school, when they’re 18, when they’re legally adults?! If they can’t do what they want in college, they’ll just make up for it later.

    But the real reason I object to same-sex dorms (or rather, mandatory same-sex dorms) is that it lessens the opportunities for college women and men to develop real friendships with each other. Almost all of my male college friends I met from living with them in the same dorm, and no, I did not hook up with any of them. I didn’t have a lot of guy friends in high school, and living in a dorm with guys really brought me out of my shell and made some awesome friendships. In the dorms friendship comes naturally and co-ed dorms made it easy for me to do what I couldn’t do in high school.

    • http://www.hookingupsmart.com Susan Walsh

      @Jules

      I am tired of these comments insinuating that college students are not adult enough/ responsible enough/ cerebral-y developed enough to make their own decisions.

      I wasn’t insinuating, I was citing science. Teens are most definitely not old enough to make rational decisions about sex or alcohol consumption on a consistent basis. Any stroll around a college campus on a Friday night will demonstrate that, but you can always just read the studies.

      As one of those people who had experiences with sex and drinking in the 70s and 80s, I can tell you that the experiences have changed dramatically. We did have some ONSs, but only with strangers who we would never see again. We did not have FWB or otherwise hook up for the hell of it with guys we already knew. Dating was still the preferred form of intersexual relationships, and it rarely if ever began with a ONS.

      As for drinking, we got totally wasted on a lot less alcohol than kids drink now. The psychiatrist on staff at a local university told me that more than half the kids on campus drink 8-15 drinks on a weekend night, with girls at the lower end and boys at the higher end. It’s not unusual for guys at parties to have 20 beers, aided by funnels. He predicts that real, long-term alcoholism will be an issue for at least a third of those kids.

      I’m glad you had good guy friends in college, but couldn’t you have done that with guys in class or activities? Why do you need to sleep in the same building? It’s true that large coed groups hang out a lot more than they did 25 years ago, but it’s rare that such groups are entirely platonic. There’s usually a ton of drama, switching partners, etc.

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  • mgambale

    @Susan

    Thanks for the welcome back. I’ve never been gone, just quiet. This blog is a fantastic resource I recommend to all my friends — both women and men — who tell me they’re confounded by the opposite sex. Keep up the great work!

  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

    Susan, you might be interested in John C Wright’s talk of the issue.
    http://www.scifiwright.com/2011/06/love-of-my-neighbor-and-contempt-of-the-world/

  • Anonymous

    Where I grew up in Europe the legal drinking age is 16, at universities are co-ed (single occupancy rooms). That country has far less binge-drinking, problem drug use, teenage pregnancy and average age of people starting to have sex is around 17 I believe.

    Ah those enlightened Europeans eh? Typical liberal. Thinking that by increasing immorality and corruption you an deal with it better and reduce it! Wow. Illogical thinking. Let me guess conservatives are “hypocrites”? —

    Newsflash the USA isn’t puritanical. It’s pretty liberal in sexuality. It’s only because you’re a far-leftist that you think that liberal “conservatives” (libertarians) are “far-right”. Sheesh.

  • Jules

    @Susan,

    For kids who were uncomfortable talking to boys and did not have a lot of guy friends in high school, co-ed dorms make it easy to make friends with guys because you don’t need an excuse to hang out, you can just all go to the dining hall together or watch movies in the dorm and stuff like that (whew, what a run-on sentence!)

    I get that the type of drinking and sexual relationships previous generations had were not as “extreme” as those college students have now. I agree that college drinking now is way out of control. But the sexual dynamics have obviously changed. You said that your generation did have some one night stands with strangers. I’ll bet your parents’ generation was not too happy about that! There’s always a disconnect. But at some point you have to let children grow up and make decisions for themselves.

  • 0verlord

    Ah those enlightened Europeans eh? Typical liberal. Thinking that by increasing immorality and corruption you an deal with it better and reduce it! Wow. Illogical thinking. Let me guess conservatives are “hypocrites”? —

    Illogical thinking is equating a reduction of moral legalism with an increase in immorality and corruption, especially since doing so denies the evidence that suggests a tendency to the contrary (cf. Portugal’s significant decline in drug problems after their drug prohibition was abolished).

    Take the cops and politicians out of the picture, and you empower families and communities. That is the way it should be, at least in this liberal’s opinion.

  • Listen8

    In all honesty kids of my generation have been exposed to a lot more that kids ten years ago did. In high school and middle school, kids were on drugs, drunk, getting pregnant, failing classes, going through divorce etc. We grew up alongside technology and have seen a hell of a lot more than our parents. In my opinion, a lot of people my age are a lot more mature because they have experienced more by the age of 18 than the average Joe. I’m going to be living in a co-ed dorm but I’m abstinent and I don’t drink or do drugs. There are lot of young adults out there just like me, and I’m tired of people putting labels on teenagers just because they are TEENAGERS. Sure our frontal lobes are still developing physically but that doesn’t make us all stupid. Stop underestimating us, we are not all the same.