Colleges Weigh Pros And Cons Of Special Housing Options For Gay-Straight Student Pairings

Ann McClure's picture

High school seniors looking forward to departing for college now have a new wrinkle in dorm life to consider, courtesy of the Rutgers University webcam trial.

That trial, in which a former Rutgers freshman was found guilty of invading the privacy of his gay roommate who later committed suicide, illustrated many issues that could arise with a gay-straight roommate pairing.

In the wake of Tyler Clementi's death in 2010, the gay community at Rutgers University lobbied for "gender-neutral" housing in which men and women could be roommates. The thinking was that a gay student might feel more comfortable — or even safer — rooming with a female friend.

At the Newark campus of Rutgers, a pilot program placing 16 students in gender-neutral rooms has gone so smoothly, Angelita Bonilla, associate dean of housing and residence life, calls it "a godsend."

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