Current Issue

Jan. 13, 2010

Vol. 110, No. 7

Coed suites? Hold on

In response to: Gender-neutral housing on its way

In regard to the new program proposed for coeducational student housing (On the Campus, Nov. 18), I take exception to the comment by Robert McGibbon ’11 that “We’re all adults. It only helps people to give them more choices.” The presumption that post-adolescents are indeed adults (whatever we mean by that term exactly) might be inaccurate, and recent studies suggest that Mr. McGibbon’s comment may not reflect actual circumstance.

Dr. Ruben C. Gur, neuropsychologist and director of the Brain Behavior Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, notes that “the evidence now is strong that the brain does not cease to mature until the early 20s in those relevant parts that govern impulsivity, judgment, planning for the future, foresight of consequences, and other characteristics that make people morally culpable ... Indeed, age 21 or 22 would be closer to the ‘biological’ age of maturity.”

Deborah Yurgelun-Todd of Harvard University Medical School’s Brain Imaging Laboratory says, “So (although) somebody looks physically mature, their brain in fact may not be mature.”

Even those whom we culturally acknowledge as completely mature adults are often capable of borderline behaviors (visit any local divorce court for those stories). So I question Mr. McGibbon’s assertion that “we are   all adults.” Indeed, the truth is more than likely that some among us never completely get there at all. I am not passing judgment on this new housing initiative because, in Socratic ignorance, I admit that I only know what I don’t know. We can all hope for only harmless outcomes from this new ­initiative.

Rocky Semmes ’79
Alexandria, Va.

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