The text of the new policy is:
The constituent institutions shall not assign members of the opposite sex to any institutionally owned and operated dormitory room, dormitory suite, or campus apartment unless the students are siblings, parent and child, or they are legally married. This policy applies to housing assignments beginning with the fall 2013 semester.The Daily Tar Heel reports:
So it is clear that the motivation for this is to preserve traditional gender roles and enforce heteronormativity among students. There is an assumption that all the students must be heterosexual, which is just ludicrous, especially if you analyze the sexual orientation data for the college-age cohort. What is also somewhat amusing is the unintended consequences of adopting this policy. Insisting that only members of the same sex are able to be roomed together at UNC-controlled residential spaces will almost certainly increase same-sex sexual activity, even though the intention was most certainly to try and reduce opposite-sex sexual activity through misguided belief that keeping sexes apart will do so.UNC-Chapel Hill had planned on instituting a gender-neutral housing pilot program in the fall. The program, which would have included 32 spaces in Carmichael Residence Hall, Craige North and Ram Village, was approved by the UNC Board of Trustees in November.BOG Chairman Peter Hans said he thinks there are other ways to ensure student safety in on-campus housing than gender-neutral accommodations.“Our board wants every student to be safe and comfortable and included,” Hans said. “The board believes there are more practical ways to achieve that goal than assigning young men and women to the same campus suite.”
Also, it is well-known that single-sex environments are more homophobic and heteronormative, as the imputed homosexuality of the participants leads to more rigorous policing of heterosexual-only behavior and strict controls on gender expression. This will lead to bad outcomes and bullying of gender non-conforming and students questioning or exploring their sexuality who live in these housing spaces.
One immediate consequence of the policy change is to negatively impact what housing choices UNC campuses will have to accommodate their transgender students
Campus Pride has been following this story and called the move "dangerous, reckless and unsafe":
Despite the ban passing, Campus Pride is continuing its work supporting students in the UNC system and creating necessary resources to support the expansion of Gender-Inclusive housing across the country. This week Campus Pride launched its Trans Policy Clearinghouse which is the most up-to-date resource of its kind with trans campus policy and safety issues.Hat/tip to Campus Pride for publicizing this. I suspect it will not be the first such public policy change among public University systems, especially those in red states.