Living with another person in a residence hall room takes compromise by both roommates. Most conflicts between roommates occur due to poor communication prior to the conflict.
Many residents make the mistake of assuming that their roommate should think, feel, or act the way they do. From that point on differences build up until the resident either gets angry and verbally lashes out or avoids their roommate completely. Unfortunately, this scenario is very common. It is also very unhealthy. A better idea is for roommates to build an open communication process right from the beginning of the year.
When either roommate attempts to get “their way” without regard for their roommate, a conflict usually arises. Unfortunately, one roommate usually assumes that getting their way is natural, while the other roommate feels taken advantage of. Following the guidelines below may help roommates have a more comfortable coexistence.
Roommate vs. Best Friend
First, don’t try to make your roommate your best friend. If it happens, great! Let it happen naturally. As roommates, it is more important that you respect each other than it is to like each other.
Take some time to get to know each other without passing judgments. Your goal from your first meeting should be to come to an amicable set of rules for the room that are simple and relatively easy for both roommates to follow. Not doing this, even if the person you are living with is your best friend, can be disastrous. Many friendships have been lost due to failure to adhere to this crucial first step.
- Each roommate should write on a separate piece of paper his or her needs for each of the items below.
- Visitation and guests
- Bathroom schedule
- Cleaning of the room
- Study times in room
- Sleep time(s)
- Use of Personal things (be specific)
- Social time in room
- Room design and use of space
- After you have written out your answers to each, circle those topics that you are more willing to compromise on. Star those topics that you are least willing to compromise on.
- Starting with your more willing to compromise items, take turns sharing with your roommate. Remember to listen to your roommate’s items and share all items first before attempting to suggest changes.
- After sharing all items begin the agreement process, starting with those topics that you are both in agreement on or most willing to compromise. If you find yourself strongly disagreeing on any particular item, skip it and tackle the easier items first. However, make sure you eventually come to an agreement on each item listed, and realize that you will have to make compromises to come to an agreement.
Remember, the more thorough you do this exercise the more likely you will be to have few roommate conflicts.
If you get stuck, see your RA for assistance. RAs are trained to mediate roommate conflicts. Any roommate refusing to cooperate and work out a roommate agreement is subject to being relocated if a conflict does arise.
If you have a conflict:
Every year the Office of Residence Life receives a number of roommate conflict complaints. Your responsibility as a resident is to work out your differences civilly. If after you have done the roommate agreement exercise above and you still develop a conflict that you can not seem to resolve, you may go to your RA.
If your conflict persists beyond your RA you may contact your Residence Director. Her or his decision will be reached only after hearing each roommate’s side of the story. The roommate who is causing the most difficulty in the roommate conflict may be subject to relocation. However, if both roommates refuse to pursue an amicable solution, both roommates are subject to relocation. The RD’s decision for resolving roommate conflicts is final.