For the 2009-10 school year, Tufts University has banned “sexiling” or banning a roommate from a residence hall room to have privacy while with a partner. While Miami University doesn’t intend to follow Tufts’ lead, it recognizes the behavior occurs and has received complaints. Rather than legislate on the issue, the university prefers roommates discuss it. The editorial board of The Miami Student agrees that it is not the university’s place to draft a policy. Instead, we encourage the university to update roommate contracts to address the issue more specifically.
Although contracts currently refer to “visitor” policies, they need to explicitly mention sex or related activities. The term “visitor” certainly accounts for visitors of the opposite sex. However, precisely because the term is so broad, first-year roommates may gloss over the more awkward kind of questions, purposefully or unknowingly. Directly referencing the issue by including it on the contract would make sure roommates are aware of the potential problem and prepare an agreement in relation to it. With the issue clearly in front of them, it would be difficult to avoid, and it would make first-years more comfortable discussing the issue. The goal is to encourage conversation so the students themselves can resolve the issue themselves.
The university made an appropriate decision. Banning the practice would be ineffective. Furthermore, it is not the role of the university to create a policy in such an area. That being said, the university recognizes the behavior exists, so it needs to address it in some way. Rather than attempt to legislate as Tufts did, Miami can try putting the topic out among the students to allow them to address it. In this way, the university isn’t ignoring a problem that exists but also isn’t unnecessarily burdened or extending its reach beyond its appropriate realm. Revised roommate contracts may offer a simple solution. While such an answer won’t eradicate the problem, it is likely to provide a framework for handling it when it does arise.