Returning students are often excited about the prospect of choosing a roommate or housemates, rather than having someone randomly assigned like their first-year. While some students find their first-year roommate to be a perfect match, it is normal and expected to have a few bumps in the road when living with another person in such close quarters. Choosing a roommate or housemates is an exciting benefit of being an older student.
Your best friend might be your perfect roommate. Then again, maybe not. Returning students often find that choosing a roommate was easy; living with them may be another story. Friendships often form over shared interests and activities, which do not always reflect shared hygiene or cleanliness preferences, sleep patterns, or need for personal space. Roommate conflicts (in suites, rooms, or houses) most often boil down to a mismatch of taste and preferences exacerbated by poor communication. The most important first step to finding the right match is having a conversation about your tastes and preferences, before the conflict gets to unmanageable levels.
Conflict is a natural part of life, yet many of us are uncomfortable with conflict. Too often, roommates wait until they are at the breaking point before discussing expectations around noise level and sleep patterns, or what is acceptable as “clean” for common areas. Once the conflict has reached the point one roommate is ready to move, it’s often hard to mediate, and all parties may feel unsatisfied with the resolution. Moving out isn’t always an option, and even when it is, the options for where to live and with whom may not be ideal mid-year.
Whether your are choosing to live on campus or off next year, Residence Life encourages you to think about the following:
One other item to consider is your personal safety. How will your room will be locked, especially in shared living areas like Commencement, houses, or a suite in Trimble? How will guests gain access to shared living areas? Remember all guests should be with their host at all times. Also consider how those living together view and abide by campus policy. If one roommate is doing something illegal or against campus policy, how will that affect the other? Common issues that come up are pets that are against policy, underage drinking, or drug use. How do these behaviors outside of the shared living area impact your living area? Considering these questions, before agreeing to live with someone else, can save you a lot of heartache and frustration.
If you are living on campus, your RA or RCC will check in on your living situation in October, and collect roommate/suitemate/housemate agreements. If at any point you are feeling frustrated with your living situation, Residence Life staff is here to help! The first step is to name the conflict and talk to your roommate. If this seems difficult to do, your RA/RCC can help you strategize ways to talk to your roommate that are solution focused. Your RA/RCC can also help you navigate the room change process, if that is deemed necessary. Keep in mind that moving doesn’t always solve the issue. As you consider how to bring up your concerns with a roommate keep in mind the following:
For example: I feel frustration when you leave your dishes in the sink. When this happens I start to resent you and don’t want to be home so avoid the house. I need the kitchen clean so I can cook my meals since I have a small meal plan, so I would really appreciate it if you would wash your dishes after you use them.
Navigating conflict isn’t easy, and may take multiple conversations to resolve some conflicts. With practice, having difficult conversations will become easier, and you will likely find ways this skill helps you outside of your living environment.