Duke mandates random roommates in the name of diversity

The letter asserted that the school's approach is driven by a desire to promote diversity, though it did concede that "lifestyle preferences" such as sleep schedules will be taken into account when assigning roommates.

Duke University recently informed incoming freshmen that they will not be allowed to select specific roommates because the school fears they will choose individuals with "similar backgrounds to their own."

Duke University is no longer allowing incoming freshmen to select their own roommates, lest they choose people with “similar backgrounds” to their own.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen increasing numbers of students who have pre-selected roommates, often with very similar backgrounds to their own,” stated a letter sent to members of the Class of 2022 from Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta and Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Steve Nowicki.

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“While this may make the transition to college seem somewhat easier, we’ve also seen that this can work against your having the best educational and social experience in the long term,” the letter continued. “For that reason, we’ve reached the conclusion that a random assignment of roommates would be the best approach and we are letting you know that your class will receive random roommate assignments.”

Asserting that “offering the best opportunity for you to meet and interact with students who have very different backgrounds from your own” is “among that principles that drives our first year design,” Moneta and Nowicki insisted that “Research shows that the more diverse the interactions among students, the better equipped they are for life after Duke, whether in post-graduate education, first jobs, or lifetime careers.”

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The letter assured incoming students that Duke “will take into account lifestyle preferences (e.g. preferred sleep hours, study location, etc.) in assigning roommates,” but reiterated that students will not be able select a specific roommate in advance, even under those conditions.

“While we can assure you that we will take into account the circumstances of those with specific medical needs and other requirements for distinctive accommodations,” it explained, “you will not have the option of selecting a specific other student with whom to share your room.”

Campus Reform reached out to Duke for comment and did not receive a response.  

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