One of the most rewarding aspects of living on-campus is the opportunity to establish friendships with people from a variety of backgrounds. Whether your roommate is a close friend from home or someone you are meeting for the first time, your roommate relationship, just like all relationships, will take some work, but can also be fun!
You and Your Roommate(s)
Getting to know and understand your roommate(s) early will lead to easier communication throughout the year. For many, sharing a room is a new experience and can sometimes result in a few misunderstandings. Developing a good relationship early on may help you to approach your roommate(s) when you discover an issue on which you do not agree. Also, be aware that your roommate(s) may approach you for similar reasons. Avoiding conflict does not work.
To have a good roommate, be a good roommate. Roommates do not need to be best friends, but it helps if they are fair, honest and considerate with one another. Every resident needs to take responsibility for their own behavior and to share responsibility for the roommate relationship. Establishing ground rules that everyone can live with requires work, but the benefit of creating good relationships makes it worthwhile. Even if lifelong friendship between roommates is not established, learning to live with each other’s differences without infringing on one another’s freedom is a valuable part of your education.
The Roommate Agreement
All residents are required to complete a Roommate Agreement during the first two weeks of classes. Resident Assistants (RAs) in the residence halls will then check with the residents in their hall to make sure everyone has completed the roommate agreement and can help students to work through their roommate agreement if necessary.
Communication is essential to a positive, working relationship with any roommate or suitemates. To facilitate this process, it is important to address potential problem areas before they become a problem. By discussing potential living concerns in the Roommate Agreement, roommates will begin to develop the kind of relationship that is conducive to positive academic, community, and personal growth. This process will also reduce or eliminate the possibility of conflict and increase communication between roommates.
Helpful Hints to Make It Work
Communicate: The key to a successful relationship with your roommate(s) is communication. Sit down and talk about habits, preferences, moods, and values. Even if your roommate is your “best friend,” you will be surprised to find out some things you did not know about one another. If something is bothering you, the sooner you talk about it in person, the sooner it can be resolved.
Be understanding: Everyone has days when everything seems to go wrong and bad moods are the result. Try to be understanding and help one another through the hard times. Making it through the rough days builds stronger relationships.
Give each other some space: Spending time together is great, but you can have too much of a good thing. Consider your roommate’s needs for time alone and establish your own quiet time. Be realistic: don’t expect your roommate to be your best friend and constant companion. Continuous close contact can strain even the best friendships.
Establish Ground Rules: Roommates need to establish ground rules regarding the use of each other’s belongings, room cleaning, phone use, entertaining guests, and study environment. Knowing where the other(s) stands on these matters prevents future disagreements.
Discuss potential areas of conflict
Be open to compromises.
If your roommate is doing something you don’t like, don’t repress your feelings. It’s usually better to talk about the things bothering you rather than to store up a lot of small grievances, which lead to a major blow-up.
Be considerate of your roommate’s privacy.
Never assume your roommate is just like you. You are both unique individuals.
Always ask permission. Don’t just use the iron or eat the cookies, even if you think it might be alright.
Appreciate your roommate. Praise, respect, and courtesy are the foundations for any positive relationship.
Avoid being judgmental. You are not your roommate’s keeper.
Be honest, assertive, and stand up for yourself, just remember to do so respectfully and to remember we are all human and make mistakes.
Ask your RA or Residence Hall Director (RHD) for advice. They are trained to help mediate conflicts.
You and your roommate are individuals with unique interests, goals, likes and dislikes. You may not find it necessary to share every aspect of college life with them. If conflicts do arise, speak with your roommate in person first; talk a problem through before it becomes a major conflict. If, after having talked with your roommate, you still can’t resolve the conflict, talk with your RA or RHD. Your hall staff is experienced in dealing with roommate problems and should be able to give you some sound advice. Remember, you owe your roommate(s) the courtesy of speaking with them first.