The roommate from hell: An obnoxious individual who insists on scattering Geronimo’s wrappers on your side of the room and listening to Gangnam Style for the hundredth time on full volume. They come back at 3 a.m. and assume you won’t hear them or their overnight guest as well as the shuffling of footsteps and laughter echoing down the hallway. Fortunately, this is the dreaded worst-case scenario.
Living on campus will probably be an enjoyable or even transformative experience where you meet new people with common interests, make lifelong friends and enjoy spending time with everyone in the building. Liberty Freeman, the Residential Life office manager, encourages students to trade the comfort of dorming with friends for a social education. Freeman explains that one benefit of rooming with new people is that students get the opportunity to live with someone from a different socioeconomic background or culture.
“It expands your mind and perception about things and introduces you to a different view you haven’t been exposed to,” she says.
Despite the perks that come with dorming, it is important to prepare for situations that can potentially cause stress, lead to conflict and plunge into a semester bubbling with drama and festering in negativity. Yukiko Bryant, Student Life and Housing manager candidly describes the not-so-pretty side of dorming and the importance of setting boundaries with roommates.
“Get the courage to tell your roommate ‘no’ sometimes,” Bryant says. “Some roommates will use another person’s shampoo, or soap or toothbrush. Know where to draw boundaries and how to keep those boundaries. This is all important to maintaining a good relationship.”
Set guidelines with your roommate about overnight guests, sharing items and personal space. After meeting your roommate, address sleeping habits and study routines before this becomes a problem mid-way through the semester. It may sound like an awkward conversation to have with a complete stranger but it can make or break the relationship you continue to develop. Since this is someone you will see on a daily basis, it is important to approach situations in a non-accusatory manner that leads to a resolution. There is no guarantee that everyone who lives on your floor will be respectful of your space and adhere to the quiet hours. Investing in a pair of earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones will help tune out some of the noise.
Freeman also advises students to familiarize themselves with the Resident Advisor (RA) who knows how to handle issues that frequently come up. The RA is present on each floor and has the responsibility to address any concerns relating to your living situation.
The first few days of dorming can be a socially awkward experience. The assortment of personalities, ages and interests sometimes refuse to click into place. Kimberly Aceytuno, senior, Recreation and Tourism Management major and residential life staff member encountered some problems while facing this entirely foreign experience.
“…At first it was awkward living with someone new but after some social interaction outside of the dorms, my roommate and I shared experiences together and we were able to bond,” she said.
Aceytuno’s fears were silenced once she attended the G.R.E.A.T. (Getting Residents Excited About Tomorrow) Escape event where freshmen are able to move into dorms a week early. “I wasn’t so lost and confused and was able to meet people ahead of time,” she said.
Living Learning Communities (LLCs) and Themed Living Communities (TLCs) foster a close-knit learning environment where students are paired into housing based on common interests. LLCs are based on a student’s major while TLCs are based on a theme or area of interest such as sustainability or living above the influence. Freeman explains that choosing to live in one of these communities makes students want to come back and excel in their area of choice.
There is no way to sugarcoat the dorming experience often described as a nightmare.
“Roommates are not necessarily friends but if they can establish some kind of bond by perhaps once a month having everyone present for cleaning day,” explains Bryant. “They might begin to understand that it’s ‘our home and we are responsible for taking care of it,’”
As long as you and your roommate set ground rules and follow them, there is no reason for the brief time spent together to be littered with conflict. Roommate from hell stories are common, but they can be prevented if you follow tips that can alleviate the issues at hand.