Mill on Open Housing
Recently, the Michigan Student Assembly has turned in a proposal to the head of housing, requesting that open, or gender neutral, housing be an option for the Fall 2010 semester. This means that returning students will be allowed to request a roommate of the opposite or unidentified gender come Fall. As a whole, the goal of the open housing proposal is to create an unbiased, accepting atmosphere on campus. It grants students the freedom to live however and with whomever they choose without being judged. If a student feels as though they need to room with someone of the same gender, they will be granted the right to do so through open housing.
For some students, being forced to live in a traditional housing arrangement – men rooming with men and women rooming with women – is terribly uncomfortable. Right now, however, it is their only option aside from rooming in a single (which are few and far apart). Open housing is all about granting rights to a marginalized demographic of students and creating overall equality – very similar to what Mill discusses in his essay “The Subjection of Women.” So would Mill be in favor of it?
Mill is an advocate for equality between the sexes, and writes about how the suppression of women’s rights is unjust. Women are no less competent then men, so why are they subject to subordination? Why are they constantly in the shadow of men? This concept can be applied to the issue of open housing as well. Mill writes:
“The main foundations of the moral life of modern times must be justice and prudence; the respect of each for the rights of every other, and the ability of each to take care of himself.”
Just as women were granted rights because they are equal, so should members of the LBGT community. Mill says that one of the “main foundations of the moral life of modern times” is “the respect of each for the rights of every other.” Nailed it on the head, Mr. Mill.