Jasmine Harris | Managing Editor
One of the biggest issues that on-campus freshman and even some upperclassmen students face are roommate conflicts. Freshman in particular experience many new obstacles having not lived closely with another person before and being used to their own space. Here are common issues that people run into when living in a dorm room with someone for the first time.
My roommate sleeps a lot and does not go to class. She never studies and I never get alone time in the room because he/she is always here. She tends to tag along with my friends and I whenever we go out, but they don‘t want to hang out with her. I’m concerned about her, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings.
Your roommate is probably having a hard time adjusting to college and there could be some underlying issue to why she clings to you and does not get out and make friends. She could be depressed or homesick. Try talking to your roommate sincerely about how you are feeling. Talk to your resident advisor about your concerns if you don’t feel comfortable talking to your roommate, and see what she or he think is the best approach to this situation. It may be helpful if you and your resident advisor both sat down with her and talked about these concerns, because they could result in something major like her failing her classes.
My roommate has sex with people in the room while I’m there. He has people over that stay overnight frequently and even has people in the room late at night on weekdays.
Start by telling your roommate that you don’t feel comfortable when he has people of the opposite sex. Ask him if he could have people over less frequently or if you can designate a time when people can come over. What some people usually do when they want to have intimate time with a guest is the “sock on the door knob” method, indicating that they would like privacy. However, talk to your roommate first about doing this, so that it is a mutual thing and one of you isn’t being forced out of the room when you need to be there.
Many of the residence halls on campus have a visitation policy where people of the opposite sex have to be out of their room by a certain time. For halls that have 24-hour visitation, your roommate still has to be courteous and make sure it’s okay with you to have guests over. If you are not comfortable when they have someone over, you have the right to say so. Let your resident advisor know what’s going on if it continues to be a problem so he or she can try to mediate you two or if the roommate is violating the visitation policy.
My roommate keeps eating my food and using my stuff. She also roommate allows guests to sit on my bed and touch my things. She changed our room around without my permission.
Did you agree to share food when you completed your roommate agreement? If so, and you’ve decided you would rather keep your belongings to yourself, or that you’d rather have them ask before using something that’s yours. If you didn’t make an agreement to share stuff, I would remind your roommate that they are not following the rules that you have set and that you would like them to ask if they want to eat or use something or that you would like them to not use your belongings at all. Tell your roommate that you weren’t okay with the changes and ask he or she if you can sit down and arrange the room in a way that you both feel comfortable. If issues continue, ask your resident advisor about a mediation and adding things to your roommate agreement.
My roommate is messy. How do I talk to them about cleaning up their belongings?
Sometimes asking is all you need to do is give your roommate a little reminder about cleaning up. During the school year, people get very busy with studying and involvement and tend to forget about things like cleaning, doing laundry etc. and they may be so busy that they don’t have time to do cleaning and waiting for the first opportunity to do so. If they’re just overall messy, ask them if they can be considerate enough to keep the areas that you both use clean and to keep their belongings in their personal area or side of the room. And of course, if it comes down to it, go to your resident advisor with your concerns.
My roommate doesn’t like me very much. She tends to ignore me when we’re in the room together and she doesn’t even want to hang out with me.
People often come to college expecting to be best friends with their roommate. However, this is most likely not going to happen unless happen to get lucky. Some people that are best friends before college even come to college as roommates thinking things are going to always go smoothly. If you feel comfortable ask your roommate why he or she ignores you or why they don’t like you. You may just have to accept the fact that they are just a roommate and that you’re not going to be friends, just as long as they follow the rules you’ve set for the room. If they do not follow the rules, you may need to talk to your resident advisor.
Communication is key to any relationship, even if you’re just living together. Concisely, I believe the biggest solution for any roommate conflict, is to simply talk to them about it in the nicest manner possible. Usually telling them what the problem is right away will keep it from escalating and sometimes that’s all it takes to even solve it. Confrontation can be very challenging, because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or make them upset with you. The key is talking to your roommate is to do so in a manner that does not seem like you are attacking them, angry at them or trying to argue with them. If talking to them doesn’t help or change your roommates actions, remind them of what you agreed on in your roommate agreement, that way they remember that they actually signed a form saying they agree that you will maintain your room a certain way.
If there is something you didn’t state during your roommate agreement or something you didn’t think was a problem, but it turned out to be, you can always talk to your roommate and resident advisor about adding this to your agreement. Your resident advisor is there for a reason! Get to know them and keep them updated on how you and your roommate are doing; they’ll be sure to help by mediating the issues between you and your roommate and assist you with coming up with a solution for those issues. Despite of this, going to your resident advisor for a room change should be your last resort, because having a roommate is a part of that transition to growing up and being on your own; being able to solve these issues on your own prepares you to face these issues out in the real world.