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UM Hurricane: Housing loophole allows gay students to live together

From Miami Hurricane:

By: Lorena Inclán // Contributing News Writer

Although Jack and Jill can't live together on campus, Jack and John can - even if they are a couple.

"We assign housing based on sex, not sexual preference," said Gilbert Arias, assistant vice president of Student Affairs. "There is no way we would know that a gay couple has moved in together."

Though the University of Miami does not ask about sexual preference on the roommate selection form, some heterosexual students feel discriminated against.

Corey Hipps, a sophomore, said he is moving off campus with his girlfriend next year because of the university's policy. Hipps said it's not fair that some couples can live on campus and some can't - especially because living on campus is more convenient.

Other students agree that heterosexual couples should be allowed housing on campus, but only in apartments.

"I think the University Village should change because it's more secluded," Jonathan Hilal, a senior, said. "You have your own bathroom, your own kitchen and you won't disturb the people around you. It should only be if you are married or engaged though."

Although some students may want to live together on campus, Dr. Franklin Foote, professor of a human sexual behavior class, said couples who co-habit prior to marriage are more likely to get a divorce.

"When people live together without being married, there's an idea that if things don't work out they'll just split up, and the idea of a forever commitment isn't there," Foote said. "When they do get married there's no transition of living together, so they feel less commitment."

Foote also noted that couples who tend to live together before marriage are less conservative and may not be as opposed to divorce as a religious couple. Also, studies do not control very variables such as religion.

Chris Rackliffe, a junior, said living with a romantic interest would bring the person too close for comfort.

"My roommate and I are both gay, but we have never dated - that would be weird," he said. "The housing is already so tiny; you literally can't get away from someone in a 10-by-14-foot room."

Aside from romance, other students believe on-campus residents should have a chance to live with members of the opposite sex for economic reasons.

An apartment area resident assistant, who prefers to remain unnamed, said that the university should offer living options for male and female best friends who want to share living expenses.

"By the time you're 19 or 20, you're not a freshman anymore and I think you should be able to decide whether or not you can live with somebody," said the RA, whose name was withheld because RAs are not allowed to speak with the press without permission.

Arias said coed suites or dorm rooms could lead to problems such as domestic violence, and if heterosexual couples wish to live together they should look for housing off-campus. Still, if domestic violence occurs, he or she does not have immediate access to helpful resources such as the campus police, blue light phones and counselors.

However, domestic abuse can occur between homosexual couples, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. It can also occur in non-romantic relationships, such as two heterosexual women living together.

"I think that there would be a higher chance of domestic violence that would occur on campus being reported than if you lived off campus," Hipps said.

Even though problems may arise from living with a romantic interest, UM students have done so in the past. The apartment area, which dates back to the 1940s, is the oldest residence facility on campus, and once housed married Vietnam War veterans and their families.

Regardless, some students think that living together on campus would create too much stress.

"It's college. People don't stay together all year," Christian Davis, a senior, said. "You break up after three months, and then what? School should be your biggest stress, not a full blown relationship on campus."

Visit miami.edu/off-campus-housing for more information on off-campus housing options.

Lorena Inclán may be contacted at l.inclan@umiami.edu.

Other schools' policies on coed housing

Carnegie Mellon

• Offers single-gender residence halls, coed residence halls, suites,
apartments, houses, fraternity and sorority houses and special
interest housing

University of Rochester

• 1 freshman residence hall is coed by corridor and room
• Offers off-campus housing

Emory University

Freshman halls:
• 5 residence halls are single sex
• 2 residence halls are coed by room, both male and female on the same floor but not same room
• 3 residence halls are coed by floor, on one end of the hall are males and in the other are females

Tulane University

• 2 residence halls coed by suite
• 1 residence hall coed by wing
• 1 residence hall coed by floor
• Louise Hall is all female and any male visitor must be escorted at all times
• Offers off-campus housing

New York University

• 1 mixed-sex housing facility

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