Dorm Brothels

by Mark Earley

At Maryland's Loyola College, ethics professor Vigen Guroian was lecturing on Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Students were comparing the novel-in which sexual promiscuity is required by law-with life in their own freewheeling dorms. Guroian pointed out the difference: Promiscuity on campus is voluntary, whereas in Brave New World, it's mandatory.

After class, a young woman came up to Guroian and told him he was wrong. Peer pressure and living arrangements on campus make promiscuity "practically obligatory," she said. "When it seems like everyone else is doing it,' it is hard to say no," she added. "It is more like Brave New World here than you think."

Guroian was not altogether surprised. He attended college himself in the late 1960s, when colleges gave up the responsibilities of in loco parentis. Up until then, separate dorms for men and women, along with stringent rules regarding visitors of the opposite sex, "made it possible for a female student to say no' and make it stick," he writes. While the rules were not always followed, they established the boundaries and norms of acceptable behavior.

Today, these boundaries no longer exist. In his book, titled Rallying the Really Human Things, Guroian writes that the abdication of in loco parentis "opened the floodgates to the so-called sexual revolution, inviting much of what goes on today in college dormitories." Men and women share dorms and even bathrooms at some schools. It's not unusual, he says, for dorms to have a designated room set aside for casual hook-ups.

In effect, he says, colleges have "gone into thebrothel business." Meanwhile, college administrators ignore the truth: Coed dorms work to the advantage of male sexual aggression. And the results are tragic.

"I know that young people are getting hurt, some permanently scarred for life," Guroian says. "I hold colleges like my own morally accountable, if not complicit in this harm. The colleges know what is going on, and they [simply] shovel out self-serving rhetoric about respecting college students as adults. And," Guroian says, "when those adults' get hurt, they order up more psychologiststo bandage the casualties, my children and yours."

Guroian is right: These appalling conditions are both terrible and tragic. Students today need a great deal of wisdom to navigate a course of integrity in dormitory life. But the journey should not be made more difficult by college administrators who seem unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge the truth about human nature: Putting healthy young men and women together in close quarters only promotes promiscuous behavior. In the short term, these living conditions interfere with the students' ability to learn. In the long term, they damage their ability to form successful marriages.

Before sending their kids off to colleges, parents ought to investigate the living arrangements. Alumni can also put pressure on their schools, demanding that they offer at least one non-coed dorm for women. And students themselves should ask administrators why they are being forced to live in surroundings that degrade them-a setting that turns college dormitories, according to Guroian, into virtual brothels.

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