Catholic University of America follows BYU’s lead in single-sex dorms


The Catholic University of America took a leaf out of BYU’s book when reviewing its current living standards.

On June 13, John Garvey, President of the Catholic University of America, announced his plan to turn 11 of the 17 coed dorms into single-sex dorms in order to minimize the amount of binge drinking and sexual promiscuity among the students.

“Virtue and intellect are connected, so helping students make ethical decisions enables them to learn better — and to stay safe, healthy and out of trouble,” Garvey wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Garvey didn’t decide to confront the public with this decision to separate the sexes without first doing his research.

“We just thought it was a more wholesome environment,” Garvey said to The Washington Post. “A little separation is a healthy thing.”

Brian Willoughby, a BYU assistant professor in the School of Family Life, completed a study in 2009 about the benefits of single-sex dorms in place of coed living. He said he approved of CUA’s decision to make the change.

“CUA’s decision certainly has the potential to impact binge drinking and hooking up on campus, but what’s unclear is how much of an impact it would have,” Willoughby said. “The research is pretty clear that something about co-ed living is associated with increased risk-taking.”

Willoughby also said  in certain social environments, risk-taking also increases.

“Our best guess is that this is due to a heightened social environment that promotes risk-taking behavior in coed dorms,” Willoughby said. “However, we also want to keep in mind that living environment/social environment is just one of many factors that contribute to if an individual will drink or engaged in risky sexual behavior. It’s certainly possible that this change will slightly decrease some risk-taking behavior; however any change is likely to be small.”

In the comments section on the Post’s story online, there are current students and alumni at the Catholic University of America, as well as a few professors, who expressed they aren’t happy with the decision to remove the coed dorms, but in general, many are supportive of the move.

“Religious beliefs will likely be a stronger predictor of risk-taking than living environment, so a devout Latter-day Saint [or Catholic] will likely not engage in risk-taking regardless of where they are living,” Willoughby said.

Brittany Logas, an elementary education major from  San Bernardino, Calif., has lived in both single-sex and coed dorms, but prefers the former for safety reasons.

“It was a bit creepy to have guys living across the hall,” Logas said. “Living in single-sex dorms makes me feel much safer when I’m at home.”

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