You may or may not have heard that the bathrooms are gender-neutral at Oberlin. This may or may not concern you, your parents, or someone else whom you hold dear. I'm here to tell you that I fell into the first camp: gender-neutral bathrooms worried me. I wasn't sure about sharing a bathroom with boys, despite the arguments for gender-neutral bathrooms. (Which, basically, say that gender-neutral bathrooms eliminate the problem of making a choice as to which bathroom you're supposed to use, making everyone a bit more comfortable. It's a pretty good argument.)
When people talk about gender-neutral bathrooms, they sometimes leave out the fact that you get to vote as a hall whether or not you want gender neutral bathrooms, so if you don't want them, they're not a given. There are also compromises that can be made, for example, having the toilets gender-neutral but not the showers, or having the bathroom gender-neutral only at certain times of the day.
My freshman year, I lived in Dascomb, a first year dorm. We voted to make the two bathrooms on our floor gender-neutral, with the knowledge that the floor below us had voted not to have their bathrooms gender-neutral. This way, if you weren't comfortable with gender-neutral bathrooms, you could just go down a floor.
Like I said before, I wasn't completely sold on the idea of gender-neutral bathrooms, but I gave them a try, and they turned out not to be an issue for me. There's really nothing too terrible about walking into a bathroom and seeing a guy. The toilet stalls (of course) lock, and the shower curtains (of course) go all the way across the stall. And, due to where the bathrooms are placed, it's often more convenient to have gender-neutral bathrooms, so you don't have to hike all over the building to find a bathroom, especially when you're visiting friends.
This past year, as you probably know by now, I lived on the women's hall of Asia House. Since it was an all-female hall, we voted to make the bathroom women only, leaving the other bathrooms in the house gender-neutral. I felt just as comfortable with this arrangement as I had the year before and, again, it provided a place for people to go if they weren't comfortable with gender-neutral bathrooms.
So the moral of this story is that gender-neutral bathrooms aren't as scary as they sound. I've stopped thinking that they're anything out of the ordinary. Also, if--once you've given them a chance--you find that they're not your thing, there are other options readily available. On a completely different topic, please feel free to comment with questions you have about anything to do with Oberlin. It's the summer, and I'm at home, so I could always use some topics for new entries.