An experiment to gauge the effects of allowing students to live platonically for a week with roommates of the opposite sex apparently improved understanding between the sexes.
Only a minority of parents were offended."We wanted to demystify the difference between the sexes," said Valerie Paz Soldan, 21, one of the nearly 50 participants at Stanford University.
"A lot of people found it very fun. Some said, `I could just stay with this roommate all quarter,' " said Paz Soldan, who lived with a male sophomore.
The experiment earlier this month, involving two dozen males and two dozen females from Burbank dormitory, was part of "Gender Exploration Week." The pairs were randomly assigned and the living quarters allowed each student to disrobe in private.
Evening workshops featured discussions of whether true platonic friendship between the sexes is widely possible and a screening of the movie "When Harry Met Sally," in which the two people meet, become friends and fall in love.
Stanford has had coeducational housing since 1966, but students do not share rooms.
University officials do not normally allow unmarried roommates of the opposite sex, but housing director Rodger Whitney said they had no problem with the experiment.
Some parents were not so sanguine.
"A couple of parents thought it was amusing," Soldan said. "A couple of parents didn't think much of it. A couple of parents said, `Don't ever do anything like that again.' "