Roommates

Living with someone new requires patience, compromise, and open communication.  You may never again be expected to get along with another person with so little space between you!  A challenge confronts each of you; the challenge to create relationships based on respect for your roommate's personal life, appreciation for human diversity and cultural differences, and a commitment to have an open discussion and resolution of problems which arise while living together.

 Communicating one's legitimate needs calmly, listening with respect to a roommate's concerns, and being willing to compromise to meet each other's most important needs can promote resolution or the prevention of problems.  Don't "beat around the bush!"  Bring up issues directly to avoid confusion and to get to the core of an issue.  It is important to confront any problems, rather than letting them continue and become more serious.  Once an issue is laid out on the table, it will be easier for you and your roommate to determine your next steps.  Negotiate and compromise.  Practice the art of "give and take."  Sometimes you may have to agree to disagree.  You may want to consider mediation.  If you can't resolve a problem, a third party may help you clarify issues and reach a solution.

 If your roommate is experiencing difficulty, you may want to jump right in and help.  While this is a noble reaction, it is important to recognize your limitations.  YOU ARE NOT TRAINED to provide all the assistance your roommate may need.  So, for your sake and theirs, get help from Residence Life and Counseling Services when it comes to situations involving academic difficulty, family issues, depression, alcohol, and other drug issues.

 Here are topics for roommates to discuss which may provide realistic expectations concerning living arrangements and social life on campus.  You may want to establish some "ground rules" for these issues:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Music & TV (types, hour)
  • Quiet (time, hours)
  • Study time (a.m., p.m., after classes, weekends)
  • Bedtime (Sleeping habits, such as use of lights or music)
  • Alarm clocks (snooze buttons, sleeping through alarms)
  • Alone time in the room
  • Sharing and borrowing items
  • Phone calls (How late?  What information is to be shared with callers?)
  • Messages (Accuracy-who, time, date, phone number, and established location to post messages)
  • Guests (drop-ins while studying, overnight guests-If one of you is gone, is it ok for a guest to use your bed?  How often may they come?  How long can they stay?)
  • Chores (Who does each task and how often?)

Here are some topics and questions to help you begin discussion of the important issues that often arise while living together.  Talk, listen, and get to know your roommate.

History, Family, Cultural, and Ethnic Background

  • What I would like to tell you about my family...
  • My cultural background includes...
  • How I describe the friends I have back home...
  • The way I characterize my neighborhood...
  • The extent I have been exposed to other cultures...
  • The type of ethnic food or home cooking I enjoy...
  • Before coming to college, I was most involved in...
  • What I'll miss most while being away from home...
  • How often I plan to go home...

  Personal Interests, Preferences, and Characteristics

  • What I plan to study or major in...
  • What kind of college extracurricular activities I'd like to become involved in...
  • The grades I hope to earn...
  • How I feel about alcohol and other drugs...
  • My interests in sports and physical fitness...
  • My level of interest and experience with computers...
  • Some of my hobbies are...

Personal Characteristics and Social Style

  • I'm looking forward to...
  • I'm nervous about...
  •   People can tell when I'm stressed by...
  • People can tell when I'm annoyed by...
  • I'd rather not discuss...
  • Something that will usually cheer me up when I'm feeling low...
  • Times I prefer to be left alone...
  • Something that is likely to annoy me...
  • My idea of relaxing is...

Celebrate your similarities and your differences!  Remember that it is unrealistic to expect that roommates will be best friends.  Roommates may work out mutually satisfying living arrangements, but the reality is that each may tend to have his or her own circle of friends.

  Four More Topics

1.      Be courteous.  Introduce your roommate to friends and family.  Ask your roommate to join you and your family for a soda!

2.      Decorate your room together.

3.      Clean up after yourself.  Make your bed and pick up clothes on a regular basis.

4.      Notify your roommate before going out of town.  Leave a number where you can be reached.

If you need further information, please contact Psychological Counseling Services by telephone at (304) 788-6976 or simply stop by the office located on the base floor of the Health Center.  If you are in crisis and need emergency services after hours, please contact the Campus Police at (304) 788-6931.