College Housing Policies Should Avoid Ethnic and Religious Balkanization

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Publication Date


Publication Title

Chronicle of Higher Education


religion, student housing, Jewish students, Yale


Four Orthodox Jewish students have sued Yale University because it will not exempt them from a requirement that all unmarried freshmen and sophomores under the age of 21 live on the campus. According to a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times by one of the students, Elisha Dov Hack, living in Yale's dormitories "is contrary to the fundamental principles" of Orthodox Judaism, by which these students live their lives. The students object to dormitories that, while nominally segregated by sex, have no parietal rules, and in which men and women can visit each other -- or stay the night -- as they please. They also object to the "safe sex" messages and easily available condoms on campus, all of which make it "hard for students like us to maintain our moral standards through difficult college years."Does Yale have a legal obligation to accede to these students' demands? And if not, should Yale nonetheless grant the students the exemptions they seek, for reasons of good pedagogy or religious tolerance?