To much publicity, Catholic University of America is phasing out co-ed housing. Why? To battle the epidemic of binge drinking and hooking up, which are integrally related, of course.
We offer two SWNIDish observations.
First, this is one of the few noticeable moves of late by a large Catholic university to do something Christian (as opposed to Catholic in a sectarian way, like de-certifying non-Catholic Christian groups on campus). Per recent research, Catholic universities, like IHEs with lingering ties to mainline Protestant denominations but unlike evangelical institutions, have students whose beliefs and behaviors are virtually indistinguishable from their counterparts at Big State U.
Second, this move exposes the hypocrisy of institutions that claim to be concerned about binging and hooking up (mostly the former, of course). Colleges make much of their efforts to promote safe drinking, given that parents don't want their youngsters self-poisoning while away at the prestige factory preparing for survival in the upper middle class). Some college presidents have of late advocated the contrarian position that a lower drinking age would lead to less binging, as underage undergrads would be liberated to drink in the open, where it's harder to overindulge. Never mind, of course, that European nations with lower legal drinking ages see parallel problems at younger ages: a lower legal drinking age makes the underage issue the high-school principal's problem.
Colleges have co-ed housing for one reason: it's easier to administer. If the number of students of either gender can flexibly be housed in any and every room on campus, the college doesn't need to sweat some of the particulars of shaping and managing their entering cohorts. The fact that even in our culture of lewdness many (most?) students would prefer to live in single-sex dorms is immaterial, as is the demonstrable fact that students behave more safely in same-sex housing.
So we think that CUA's move will not spark a trend. The interests of colleges are too entrenched to let a little thing like behavioral patterns interfere with policies of self-interest.
And as to current CUA students' complaints that they will be hindered in making leading-to-marriage friendships, we believe that nubile youngsters will still manage to find each other somehow.