Two beds, two desks, two closets and two people crammed into an itty-bitty living space can be a recipe for disaster.
Luckily, the misery of hating one’s roommate can be avoided with proper foresight and cooperation.
Assistant Director of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services Shay Bright recommends that roommates discuss their needs and wants before problems arise.
“It is great if roommates can talk upfront about their wants and do-not-wants,” Bright wrote in an e-mail.
Roommates are likely to get along immediately after moving into the dorm, according to resident assistants. However, the more small issues they let slide as the school year goes on, the more likely it is that conflict will erupt. Bright suggested roommates prevent a dispute from escalating by immediately telling each other when they are bothered by something.
According to Taylor Nixon, an RA in Allison Hall, many problems that roommates face are small misunderstandings that can be resolved quickly.
The most common complaints that Lannea Russell, an RA in Braiden Hall, has heard in the past are loud music, guests overstaying their welcome and roommates not doing their fair share of the cleaning.
These are problems roommates Tara Kaul, a sophomore health and exercise science major, and Samantha Marx, a sophomore finance major, can identify with. Their biggest issues with their other roommates were noisiness, roommates coming in late and boyfriends coming over when they were trying to sleep or study.
Picking your best friend to live with is not always the best option either. Many times, living in close quarters can put friendships to the test.
“Sometimes friends are better off living one room down the hall than as roommates,” Russell said.
It can also help to live with a new face. Kolten Tea, a sophomore sports medicine major, said he and his roommate get along well. The pair was matched randomly in the residence halls last year.
“The only problem we have had is when he’d have class at 1:00 and I had class at 9:00, so he’d be up while I was trying to sleep,” Tea said.
Bright suggests that roommates facing problems should remain calm and attempt to work it out. This includes listening, explaining one’s perspective and cooperating. Roommates should explain to one another how the situation is affecting them instead of pointing fingers, Russell said.
If roommate conflict continues to intensify and a compromise can’t be reached, residents can turn to their RA.
An RA can act as an intermediary in a dispute, but they do not have the authority to switch rooms for students who continue to disagree. If a dispute gets to this point, an area coordinator or hall director is required to step in and take the appropriate action.
Nixon said most roommates who do face problems are able to work out their differences, however.
“People are like water,” Nixon said. “They take the path of least resistance and that path is conflict resolution.”
Staff writer Lyndsey Struthers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org