Well-Known University Won't Allow Freshmen to Room With Friends For This Dumb Reason

Beth Baumann
Posted: Mar 05, 2018 7:30 PM
Well-Known University Won't Allow Freshmen to Room With Friends For This Dumb Reason

College is a bit of a safety net between being under your parents' roof in high school to living completely on your own as an adult. Students are on their own for the first time and learning about themselves. It's an exciting time but it's also an extremely scary time. You're fresh out of high school, you're leaving behind your family and moving to a new place. To make things even worse, one Ivy League college has decided to change how students' roommates are chosen.

Beginning this fall, Duke University will no longer allow incoming freshman students to room with someone they know. The university sent out a letter to all incoming students letting them know that roommates will be randomly assigned by specific things, like sleeping patterns and medical needs will be taken into account, Campus Reform reported.

Here's a copy of the letter students received:

Dear Members of the Class of 2022,

Welcome to Duke University! In our roles guiding the offices of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, we have the pleasure and responsibility of working with a host of educators and administrations who are focused on providing to you the best intellectual and social experience possible. We believe the Duke undergraduate education to be extraordinary in many ways and always look for opportunities to make it even better. 

One of the strengths of the Duke environment is the distinctive first year experience you will enjoy on East Campus. Among the principles that drives [sic] our first-year design is offering the best opportunity for you to meet and interact with students who have very different backgrounds from your own. Research shows that the more diverse the interactions among students, the better equipped they are for life after Duke, whether in post-graduate education, first jobs, or lifetime careers.

In the last few years, we've seen increasing numbers of students who have pre-selected roommates, often with very similar backgrounds to their own. While this may make the transition to college seem somewhat easier, we've also seen that this can work against your having the best educational and social experience in the long term. For that reason, we've reached the conclusion that random assignment of roommates would be the best approach and we are letting you know that your class will receive random roommate assignments.

While we will take into account lifestyle preferences (e.g. preferred sleeping hours, study location, e.g.) in assigning roommates, you will not be able to select your own roommates in advance. While we can assure you that we will take into account the circumstances of those with specific medical needs and other requirements for distinctive accommodations, but you will not have the option of selecting a specific other student with whom to share your room. 

Our experience over many years assures us (and thus, you) that you'll be fine...better, in fact! We believe that you'll enjoy the opportunity to meet someone you've not previously known and will have a great opportunity to explore your roommate's history, culture, and interests. Who knows...you may get invited to a part of the world you wouldn't otherwise get to see. And, if you and your roommate have compatibility challenges, don't worry. We'll help you work them out or find a way to make a change if it becomes necessary.

Have a great rest of your high school career and a wonderful summer. We can't wait to see you very soon!

Go Duke!

Larry Moneta, Ed.D
Vice President for Student Affairs

Steve Nowicki, Ph.D
Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

This is One of the Dumbest College Decisions

But is this really what college has come to? I understand college is about diversity, about exposing yourself to new ideas and points of view, but this goes too far. There's no reason to stress out college freshmen even more than they already are.

If two students know each other, what's the big deal in letting them room together? The college has a responsibility to educate students, not decide who they will become friends with or what values they decide are important to them.

Our society has become so focused on being "equal" and making sure everyone is heard that we turn the simplest things into the most complicated. 

Duke would rather risk a number of roommate conflicts than to let some student room together, all in the name of "diversity." 

Let's play out a few scenarios. 

Duke decides to put two young women together. One is a devout Christian who holds strong religious beliefs. She goes to church every Sunday and partakes in Bible Study a few times a week. The first student is paired with another young woman, but the second student is an LGBT student who is very involved in the gay rights movement. She frequently brings over her girlfriend to watch movies in her dorm room. What happens when the Christian student is uncomfortable by her roommate's actions?

Duke decides to put two random young men together. The first young man is on the school football team and he is dedicated to making sure he's playing the best he can. His roommate doesn't play sports but instead, focuses on studying and getting good grades. What would Duke do if the studious student had issues with the football player working out in their room in the middle of the night while he tries to sleep?

If any of these four students had a roommate they wanted to live with, why not spare them? Because it makes too much sense.