NRO article decries Stanford gender neutral housing

A Stanford student’s mother wrote an article for the National Review impugning Stanford for allowing gender neutral housing. Apparently, her daughter got stuck in a co-ed room for winter quarter in Columbae (one of several co-op houses on campus) without specifically requesting one. Yet, her mother was outraged over the immorality of this situation and sent letters to the President’s office and Housing complaining that her daughter was uncomfortable. The mother complains in her article that the University did nothing to rectify the situation.

We, in turn, expected Stanford to enforce the terms of its own housing contract. It should not be acceptable for any group of students to alter the conditions of that contract. Furthermore, it should not be up to individual students to determine whether to protest a housing arrangement which so obviously violates this contract. There would clearly be social difficulties for any student who protested. Thus, it is Stanford that should rectify the situation.

Of course, there is a more significant problem. We, like many parents, do not consider a “gender neutral” housing arrangement morally acceptable. We don’t consider such an arrangement consistent with common sense. We would never have consented to pay for our daughter’s enrollment as a freshman if we had been aware that she might be placed in such a rooming arrangement.

Despite the outrage of the NRO article, the daughter has a different story. She seems to have had no qualms living in a co-ed room in Columbae, and in fact, enjoyed it. Though Housing contacted her to see if she wanted to be moved, she declined. In a letter to the Columbae email list, obtained by the Review, the daughter writes:

<span style="font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;">I am the first child in my family to leave home, 3000 miles from my parents’ home in Boston, and the only liberal agnostic in a conservative Catholic family.  My parents are having a really hard time dealing with this, especially with our huge differences in values and opinions.  They have a very limited understanding of what co-ops are and how Columbae functions.  I think they’ve embraced my rooming situation as justification for their fears about the liberal education system and to shift the blame to a third party (Stanford) rather than learn more about cooperative housing and deal with our differences in opinion.

The mother makes it pretty clear in the article that this is a family dispute when she forces her daughter to take out loans to pay for her tuition because she does not support the gender neutral housing. Why is she launching a diatribe against the University and housing system for something that is her daughter’s personal decision? Gender neutral housing isn’t forced on anyone, and it certainly wasn’t forced on her daughter. This is really a family conflict—one best resolved in the realm of the family rather than on the web. Why did the NRO intervene in a family conflict like this, probably further exacerbating the shaky relations between mother and daughter?

The NRO editors showed a total lack of discretion, printing the article probably for its sensationalistic value (and they complain about the liberal media for sensationalizing issues??!!)  The least they could have done was contact the daughter to verify the facts of the story.

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