Phi Beta Cons

A Student’s Dorm Room Is His Castle

Regarding the court case in New Jersey involving a young man who tweeted about his college roommate having homosexual encounters in their dorm room, what struck me is how students are routinely expected to vacate their rooms when their roommates wish to have sex. Isn’t this rather an imposition and in more ways than one?

A college student’s room is his home, no? At least for the time he is at school. All his things and his “stuff” are there; that is his base. How would any of us like to be told that we have to leave our home for some hours so that another member of our household can have sex? And for that matter, given the size of most college dormitory rooms, how would we like to return to our tiny home directly after a session of steamy sex, complete with exchange and release of the various bodily fluids of other individuals? Shouldn’t there be some kind of rule for college dormitories, that, given today’s givens, your sex life is your own, but you can’t impose on your roommate and must find suitable arrangements elsewhere?

Even the mature and distinguished doctor played by Trevor Howard in the wonderful British movie Brief Encounter (1945) has to borrow an apartment in order to entertain a married lady, played by Celia Johnson, with whom he, also married, is falling in love. And even then, he is embarrassed when the friend whose apartment it is arrives unexpectedly and discovers that the Howard character intended to use the premises for that purpose. And indeed, the doctor and the lady do not become intimate, but realize that they must part and return to their respective spouses. What a sublime movie. The Brits, who are known to like the idea of self-renunciation, voted it their most-loved film.

But seriously, colleges should set rules about these things if only to avoid the kind of trouble, outrage, and injustice this New Jersey episode is causing. And students might learn something about proper times and proper places, and maybe even something about proper behavior.


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