Maybe Single-Gender Colleges Should Make a Comeback

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I had the lovely pleasure of a chapter brother (and writer of this post on FM) sending me an article noting the Harvard University Dean’s disregard for the 1st Amendment and right to associate with whom one pleases.

It’s an interesting case, one that has resulted in a secret society speaking out publicly to protect their single-gender status for what seems to be one of two times in their 200+ year history! I’m also on a single-gender-discovery kick with this most recent post regarding how organizations and people are working with the “T” in LGBTQ (transgender), with regard to fraternities and sororities.

The Dean believes that the “culture of rape” addressed in this video is fed by the existence of single-gender groups, and that those groups have no place in a 21st Century Society. After reading about the aforementioned Dean’s declaration, I thought back to a visit I made to the University of Pennsylvania, home to the Iota Chapter of my fraternity.

At the University of Pennsylvania, there is a standard brown-brick dormitory surrounded by a neat little gate. Check it out:

This was actually the women’s dormitory back when UPenn first created courses for women. The only difference between that building then and today are that it now has a wi-fi network and that all of that grassy space was at one point a moat. Yes, a moat.

The school, like most schools at the time, held a strict curfew, and a gate, draw-bridge and moat were situated around the women’s dorm to prevent male students from sneaking in at night.

Why is this relevant? For all of the hullabaloo about whether single-gender organizations contribute to the “culture of rape” at American universities, it seems as if the very institutions now marred by such a culture were at one point free of the need to hire a professional workforce to provide judicial oversight of the sex lives of their students.

They simply restricted their enrollment to one gender or took extreme, physical measures to ensure that men and women would not mingle in situations that would end up producing babies and infections. That and they also cared about educating students, not subbing in for their parents and law enforcement. Please keep in mind, the vast, VAST, majority of sexual misconduct happens in dormitories, not in the bachelor pads of men’s fraternities.

Most of my colleagues would consider the co-ed college experience to be something of value to society and women in particular, but in an era where we typically speak of sexual assault as if it is a women’s issue, I’m now inclined to think that single-gender colleges and dormitories with extensive security networks and simple expulsion guidelines were a far better deterrent to sexual assaults than a Title IX office.

Some part of me feels as if much of the social “progress” we are making is doing terrible things to the young people going through college. Embracing and encouraging sex over abstinence and openly mocking men who believe in chivalry as outdated and sexist all while encouraging those students to spend more of their personal time with acquaintances of the opposite gender may not be a full-proof plan to eliminating sexual misconduct.

Perhaps we should go the exact opposite direction of the wishes of Harvard’s Dean. Perhaps our colleges should eliminate co-ed dorms, build physical barriers between the genders and re-institute curfews with the threat of expulsion.

As mentioned here, there’s no real reason for colleges and universities to have backbones with regard to enforcement, so none of that would happen. Each student is just another government grant or tuition check to free up funds for greener grass and a new, organic, windmill-powered cafeteria with 41 flavors of gluten-free bread.

College is so great. . .