Another Catholic college goes to co-ed dorms

Another Catholic college goes to co-ed dorms

“St. Anselm moves to co-ed dorms”

For the first time in its 118-year history, St. Anselm College will offer male and female students the option of living in the same dormitory.

Administrators at the Benedictine college say bulging enrollment the past several years has left few logistical options and, mirroring a national trend, more females than males are enrolling.

Next fall, three dorms—Brady Hall, St. Mary Hall and Building M—will be home to both men and women, affecting about 160 students, or a 10th of the students living on campus.

“It gives us some flexibility,” said the Rev. Jonathan DeFelice, St. Anselm president.

Alumnae say this is another step down the path along which St. Anselm, which is in Manchester, NH, goes from being a Catholic college to “a college in the Catholic tradition.” The next step, they say, will be loosening of the rules concerning visitation. DeFelice says that’s balderdash, that the rules aren’t going to change.

Would the good Father care to make a wager on that?

Kathleen Reilly, a senior, said she wishes the housing change had been made years ago. Rules in place now, she said, restrict study time as well as socializing, and often the best study partner for a class is a member of the opposite sex.

Tom Gunning, a junior, endorsed co-ed dorms as a mechanism to bring his own gender into line.

“In an all-boys dorm, it kind of gets out of control,” he said.

DeFelice said the housing switch isn’t all about logistics. The ability to offer more socialization options, in part to combat what Gunning describes, played a role in the move, said the president.

Ah yes, more socializing is what they need. Better study partner opportunities. Is anyone dumb enough to actually believe this stuff?

We know what it’s about: The competition among Catholics to bring in the best and brightest students is tough and so, in order to be more appealing to a generation that grew up thinking that college is one big opportunity to party and go wild, you have to loosen the rules and wink at what everyone knows is going on and going to be going on.

Catholic parents who are actually concerned about the moral environment that their children are formed in should take notice.

(Incidentally, Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, wrote an article in the March 2003 issue of Catholic World Report, entitled “Are Catholic Colleges Leading Students Astray?”, which included data from a study that showed that kids were less likely to graduate from Catholic colleges as practicing Catholic than if they went to secular or non-Catholic colleges.)

Technorati Tags:, , , ,

  • Actually, I stayed in a co-ed dorm at a Catholic university.  Men on one floor, women on the other.  As far as I could see, the only people who were making out with their dorm-mates were the ones who’d be making out with them off-campus, anyway.  The rest of us were fine.

  • I didn’t think there was too much trouble with our co-ed dorm at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Kolbe-Clare hall.  Sure, they called the women’s side Clare Hall and the men’s side Kolbe Hall, but it was all one dorm building.  In fact, Kolbe-Clare had virtually the same set-up as that of the two co-ed dorms I lived in at a public university in California.  There are rules, regulation and guidance that can be set in place that make it a very good living situation.  It’s not as though men’s and women’s rooms are going to be be right next to each other or that men and women will have the option to room together.  I’ve only seen good things from the three diverse co-ed dorms I lived in as an undergraduate.

  • I went to a “Catholic” university in St. Louis (run by Jesuits) that had true co-ed dorms.  In fact, I think all of them were co-ed.  It was a mess.  The rules were easily broken.  Want to shack up?  Just have a guy friend check you into the building as his guest, and you’re good to go for the night.  I was an RA in one of the dorms, and my FLOOR was co-ed.  It was a total mess.  Guys and girls leaving each others rooms at all hours.  They were also all freshman, which didn’t make things any easier.  Oh, and I’m pretty sure that the co-ed dorms weren’t the most liberal thing that they had on that campus.

  • Kolbe and Clare Halls are not the same thing, and there’s no one at Steubenville who would call it a co-ed dorm. They’re two buildings that share a common lobby.

    Did you live in Kolbe-Clare Hall (note it’s not call Kolbe-Clare Halls), Domenico?  Like I said, I actually lived in Kolbe-Clare Hall, and I call it a co-ed dorm, as did many of us who lived in it and experienced it. 

    You can deny that Kolbe-Clare is co-ed all you like.  What cannot be denied is that Kolbe-Clare is one solid building with two wings.  One wing—Kolbe Hall—housed the men.  The other wing—Clare Hall—housed the women.  One dorm manager and a staff of RA’s for all of Kolbe-Clare.  It has the exact set-up of two other co-ed dorms in which I lived during my time at a secular university.

    Let’s call a spade a spade: even the illustrious Franciscan University of Steubenville has a co-ed dorm.

    I also attend Saint Louis University.  I’d say the co-ed experience is likely, indeed, the most “liberal” thing on campus.  SLU’s a solid Catholic school and I’m proud to be an alumnus.  Going to SLU, attending St. Francis Xavier Church and being a student in the theology and philosophy departments made me a stronger and more passionate Catholic.

  • My daughter is a senior at Saint Anselm and I worked on campus for 8 years.

    The reference that the female student made regarding studying opportunities references the fact that Saint Anslem has parietals. The men are not allowed in women’s dorms and vice versa after 11:00 on a week night and, I think it is 1 or 2:00 on the weekends.

    There will not be males and females in the same hallways/floors, those will still be separated. And, access will be only for people who live on a particular floor. At Saint Anselm your ID allows you entrance into your building. I assume they would use the same system for each floor.

    My daughter lives in an apartment on campus. The building she is in has 6 apartments in it, with three floors. There are guys in the apartments above her. So, this isn’t really that different in that aspect. All of the upper class housing is like that—the apartments and the townhouses.

    While working on campus in the Athletic Office, we used to have female athletes who would be put into “forced triples”—rooms that are meant for two people where they would put three girls because there wasn’t any room for them anywhere else. That isn’t a great situation either.

  • Cheryl, I’ve known people who’ve gone to dorms with such separated floors and so on. It’s a lot easier to sneak onto a floor than it is to sneak into a building.

    I’ll lay down good money with anyone that this results in widespread “lack of chastity.”

  • Domenico,

    And what are most people thinking when they hear “co-ed dorm”?  A dormitory where both men and women live?  That’s what Kolbe-Clare Hall (singular, not plural) is.  And as someone who lived there, I can testify that we all called it “co-ed”.  Interestingly enough, the university uses the same picture of Kolbe-Clare Hall in its respective descriptions of Kolbe Hall and Clare Hall on its website.  Take it from a guy who actually lived there—it’s co-ed.

    Now maybe we can move on to something more worthwhile to discuss.

  • The university may use the same photo but they refer to them as two separate halls—St. Clare Hall and St. Kolbe Hall with different web pages, separate residence hall staffs. And they would never be so stupid as to call it “Kolbe-Clare Hall” or call it a co-ed dorm because parents would freak out and rightly so.

    Yet another pointless debate with you. You’re right: I’m moving on.

  • Dear Dom,

    I feel like you are not making one key point: the responsibility of the students themselves.  Yes, I concur with you, the Catholic college or university should do what they can to reduce temptation.  However, by not saying anything about the students’ duties (who, by the way, are of the age of reason) implies that the sin (may God in His mercy prevent this from happening) is also the college’s fault and not the student.  This further implies that the students can’t sublimate their desires, which is not true either.  If the students cheat, is it the school’s fault?  No.  If the students engage in inapropriate activities, is it the school’s fault?  No.

    I believe we concur on the following:
    1) The Catholic college or university should do all they can to prevent student temptations
    2) The students (who are of the age of reason) need to take their lessons from the Church and not the world in this matter, i.e., act virtuously.

    Let us pray that St. Anselm’s students will not sin.

  • Dear Domenico:
      A very great conversation as usual on your magnificent Catholic site! 
      Catholicism has taught for centuries that at all costs for the salvation of our immortal souls, one should avoid all occasions to sin. In any decent estimation, co-ed dorms are a modern rationalization of ‘occasion to sin’ by liberal Catholic administrators.  I leave the final word on this to the late Fr. John Hardon, S. J. a prolific Catholic theologian and writer of volumes: 

        “Only two kind of people will reach heaven: the very humble and the very chaste; nobody else, nobody else, nobody else.”

      Clearly, it seems this is nothing less than a strong occasion to sins of the flesh before marriage.  Needless to say fornication among Catholic youths is epidemic along with consequent veneral diseases. 
      Mary, Mother most chaste, pray for us!
      Mary, Mother most pure, pray for us!
      Mary, Virgin most prudent, pray for us!

    God bless and a holy Lent to all young Catholics everywhere and their parents!  For more on John Hardon…..
            j hughes dunphy

  • I agree with you…to a degree. I don’t think it is going to be much different than it already is. I heard lots of stories of students going out the windows when RA’s came knocking.

    My point was that in the upper level housing, they are already “co-ed” if that means there are both sexes living in the same buildings. Those are apartments and townhouses. I think what they are talking about now are the bigger dorms. St Mary’s used to be all women, now it is one earmarked for being “co-ed”.

    I also agree with the other writer who wrote that the larger onus is on the students themselves. They don’t learn their values when they are at college…that is where they are supposed to hone them and bring them into adulthood.

  • As an alumna of St. Anselm who was very grateful for the dignity afforded us by parietals (ie: no sleeping in the lobby while your roomie has her boyfriend over).
    I am appalled at this change! Shame on you, St. Anselm!
    No institution can prevent college students from sinning if they have a mind to; however, they owe it to them to protect those of us who chose to maintain our modesty.
    I agree wholeheartedly with Fr Hardon.

  • While it’s not a Catholic university, Clark University in Worcester, MA plans to implement co-ed ROOMS next year. 

    Where’s the win there?  And how long before “Catholic” colleges and universities feel they have to do the same to…uh…compete?

  • My college was all co-ed dorms (I think).  We were hundreds of miles from home with little or no supervision.  If you wanted to, you could succumb to all types of temptation – skipping class, drinking booze, experimenting with drugs, sleeping around.  I can’t imagine that moving the girls into separate buildings would have affected any of this.

    Are there any stats on this?

  • Rick, trust me, it does! I wouldn’t believe stats on this cause college students so often deceive themselves, but, the farther you are from tempation, and the mor your modesty is preserved, the better.

  • Personally, I’m against the idea of having to room with people you don’t know at all, male or female. I didn’t go to college to have strangers forced on me. I have the rest of my life for that. Nor am I there to be the fall guy for other people’s social problems (bullying, stealing, bringing their boyfriends/girlfriends in, et cetera). When I attended U of Cincinnati, I commuted from my parents’ home the whole time. In retrospect, I should have gotten a room off campus. But that would have given me the full “college experience,” aside from being a social experiment for the administration. Life away from home is enough of an adjustment without other people’s nonsense in your face. I’m not saying other people didn’t get through it okay (like the one reading this who can’t wait to respond—yeah, I’m talkin’ to you!). I’m just saying it’s not necessary.

    Colleges are doing this to make it easier on themselves, whether for logistical purposes, or marketing purposes. Either way, the students pay the price. Like they’re not paying enough in tuition.

  • SLU a “solid Catholic” school? There may be a few good elements there, due to its size, but officially, no. This is the school that sold its hospital to a major healthcare company that does abortions, and did not back down when the archbishop questioned it. This is a school that allowed the Vagina Monologues for a number of years. This is a school whose president sits on the board of one of the local business groups that pushed hardest for Missouri’s cloning initiative last year, and this is a school that refused to take a formal position on it.

  • This is the school where I received my most solid, orthodox Catholic theological formation.  This is the school where the Jesuits opened up their house to a group of about 50 undergraduates led by other graduates students and myself in order for us to have Bible study followed by Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration every week.  This is the school where daily Mass was offered at least three times a day on campus.  This is a school where wearing your habit (Aquinas Institute) or clerics (SLU Jesuits) was the norm.

    Whatever your misgivings may be about their hospital sales or community board participation, which does not seem to be backed by any solid information, I assure you that you have absoultely no clue what you are talking about, Patrick.  Like Domenico did with Kolbe-Clare, you seem to make judgments about institutions without having actual experience at those institutions.  Unless I am wrong in thinking that you were not a student or staff/faculty there.  If that’s the case, then I wonder how much of SLU you actually took in.

  • You have a habit of making vast and arrogant assumptions. You have no way of knowing what I have and have not experienced regarding Kolbe and Clare Halls.

    I was a member of the Student Welfare Committee in the mid-90s as well as editor of the Troubadour when the plans for the dorms were being considered. I know how they were envisioned and that the university was very careful never to give the impression to parents, donors, and alumni that it was one building housing both men and women because it would have given scandal.

    So Michael, you can check your ego at the door and consider once again that perhaps you don’t know as much as you think you do.

  • Michael:

    First off, I’m glad there are orthodox Catholic elements at SLU. because of its size, there certainly should be room for diversity. But let me get something straight here: Fr. Biondi sits on the board of the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA). It was a major proponent last year of Amendment 2, the embryonic stem cell cloning initiative. At no point did he distance himself publicly from this effort, and at no point did the school take a formal position on this amendment. Even worse, the RCGA sponsored an organization called Catholics for Amendment 2.

    Regarding the Tenet takeover of SLU Hospital in 1997, all one needs to do is google to find this:

    I stand by what I have written. And don’t even get me started on the Aquinas Institute of Theology.

  • No need to get defensive, Domenico. 

    Michael, as a former dorm resident, thinks is a co-ed dorm and that’s a valid opinion.  What is the problem?

    As a woman, I would consider a co-ed dorm what you just said: two buildings share a common lobby.  In my state school, we had the same set-up and we called it a co-ed hall.

    I guess you and Michael don’t agree on the definition of a co-ed dorm.  I don’t understand the basis of attacking Michael’s opinion unless you’re biased towards FSU.

  • Ah, Domenico…just when I was starting to take you seriously in your claim to be “moving on” from “pointless debates” with me, you reassert yourself.

    I have never kept secret my arrogance…I mean, after all, one has to have at least a touch of arrogance to start a blog, right?  But I find it fascinating how quickly you play the arrogance and ego card…and then post your resume for effect.  Typically that’s a sign of even greater arrogance, but since it is the season of Lent, I will accuse you of holding no such quality.

    Just like in your debate with Katerina where she out-smarted you on social teaching, here you list your credentials as a sort of counterpoint to your partner as if credentials, in themselves, establish a point.  All you have done here is reveal the utterly dispicable disingenuousness of our alma mater.  Just as in business, it’s usualy the consumer who knows the product better than the CEO, so too do I know Kolbe-Clare much better than those visionaries who envisionsed the hall and pitched it to the university community, let alone the editor of the Troubadour (the paper with which I, too, was involved). 

    Kolbe-Clare is one building with only one resident hall staff along with two wings where men and women live.  That’s co-ed, no matter how you try to spin it to parents and benefactors!

  • Katerine: The definition of what is a co-ed dorm is at the heart of this story. And you should pay attention: I’m hardly biased against Steubenville. After all I am a very proud graduate of the university with a degree in theology, having attended 1992-1996.

    Michael: I would have moved on except you continued to insult me. I didn’t just post my resume for effect: I was explaining how I know what the university’s mind on this matter is and how far off of it you are. It seems that rather than accuse me of bias against FUS, Katerina’s label applies to you. That you accuse that fine institution of “utterly dispicable (sic) disingenuousness” reveals much more about you than you know.

    Your attitude reveals much. Perhaps you justify your own arrogance as a necessary ingredient in blogging, but don’t tar the rest of us with your self-justification.

    Let’s get this straight. You’re no longer welcome here.

  • A few days later, but for the record. Here’s information about a lawsuit where SLU is stating it is not a Catholic institution.

    Also, go the school’s Department of Theology and check out the pictures of the permanent faculty members who have an “S.J.” after their name. See anything missing? I’m glad wearing the clerics is the norm, but the St. Louis Jesuits don’t appear to like being photographed in them.