Princeton may not have a gender-neutral housing option today, but it once did. I know. I was there.
As the chair of the Orange Key Guide Service in 1974, I had the power to hire four students, myself included, to give campus tours over the summer — and the responsibility to house them. I put together a group of three tour guides (including one woman) and another friend, and acquired a suite in Spelman for us. Our number grew to five when our female tour guide invited her sister, a student at a lesser school in Cambridge doing a summer research project at Princeton, to share our suite. We were not overly surreptitious about our three-man, two-woman living arrangements, and the University may have actually approved them.
If our experience is any guide, squeamish parents and political conservatives need not fear an outbreak of licentiousness. Our living together felt natural, and we treated each other as roommates, not potential conquests.
I am grateful to Princeton for many things, but chief among them is how it expanded the horizons of this small-town boy. In that Spelman suite, I lived for the first time with an African-American, an Asian-American — and two women who were not my sisters. In retrospect, my summer of gender-neutral housing was simply a small but important part of my Princeton education — even if one of the things I learned was to watch out for pantyhose drying in the shower.