The New York Times today reports on The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students, profiling the “best campuses” for gay and lesbian students. Amidst predictable categories, the review briefly touches upon “housing options and themes.” Specialized housing is a particularly noxious form of self-segregation at present universities, wherein minorities or other favored communities typically have the option of being ensconced only with their own kind–look to Carleton college’s Shared Interest Living Communities. Presumably the “Queer and Allies” house would attract Advocate favor. The Boston Globe recently ran an article on such specialized housing. The start is vomit-inducing:
Laura Mandelberg is a dedicated Democrat whose contribution to the decor of a suite at a Brandeis University’s residence hall this year will be life-size cutouts of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Bill Clinton.
Jordan Frazes is an avowed environmentalist who plans to post and preach the rules of waste recycling in the suite. Their point of intersection, the two seniors say, is social justice, and this year they will live the cause — literally– in one of two residence hall suites Brandeis has devoted to students interested in “Justice, Service & Change.”
“In a regular dorm, you go out to dinner with your roommates,” Frazes said. “Here you plan events to effect change with your roommates.”
“Themed housing” is one of the most unpleasant in recent college developments–a word suited to amusement park hotels, not to college lodging arrangements. In place of putative experiences with persons and ideas of every variety, colleges are actively facilitating life in monochrome dorms. What’s the point of diversity if one can still end up living, at the university’s direct facilitation, only with persons that look or think like you? Instead, happily insulated from the world in their Social Justice Soviet, students like the ones above can enjoy sprightly debates, on a spectrum, I’d imagine, from somewhere left of the American Prospect to somewhere left of Mother Jones. Look to the close of the Globe piece:
Asked what they might like to pursue as a project, they said they had ideas, but had yet to meet as a group and agree on one. There is, though, one piece of business they will be getting out of the way first. Mandelberg, who is active in Brandeis Democrats, said, “We haven’t had the `Are you a Republican?’ talk yet.”
And colleges wonder about failures of integration within the student body. Specialized College Housing: high-class ghettoes for most of you.