Staff Editorial: Gender-neutral housing a victory for equality

After much careful consideration, Geneseo has decided to jump on board the innovative gender-blind or -neutral housing trend adopted by colleges and universities across the country.

The idea is to allow men and women to live together in the same suite, sharing a common area, bathroom and even individual bedrooms. This policy, while potentially problematic (what happens when a relationship goes south and ends on a bad note?), can be seen as nothing if not progressive on the part of the college.

Among those who stand to benefit most are trans-gender students who will be allowed to live in a more mature environment that accepts and welcomes them for who they are. It is assumed that those who elect to live in a suite of mixed-sex will also be mature enough to embrace lifestyles other than their own, leading to a furthering of ideological exchange on campus.

The policy does have the potential to lead to "gender wars" between men and women; complaints like "men are messy" and "women take forever in the shower" are all too common already. Yet gender-neutral housing could very easily have the opposite effect by forcing residents to deal with these issues rather than subscribe to them. If compromise is the basis of social harmony, then gender-neutral housing can be seen as an experiment in harmony. Can people resolve their differences in order to live happily together? They'll have to.

So, with gender-neutral housing's potential to bring people together in a mature and educational way, forcing them to resolve any conflicts and be open-minded to differences of opinion and lifestyle, can there be any doubt that the policy is beneficial? There certainly cannot. In fact, the policy is just the latest progressive measure in a long line of social improvements that began in the '60s with civil rights and have been carried into the new millennium.

At a college where equality is held dearly as an overarching guiding principle, where racism and bigotry are refused on principle, perhaps we'll soon see a time when trite distinctions between the genders are blurred in society. This policy is a definitive first step.