So you’re living away at college now and you have this person living with you. Whether you grew up sharing a room with your siblings or you’re used to having your own room, if you’re like most people, this is the first time you have shared such close quarters with someone who is essentially a stranger. And whether you chose your roommate or had one assigned to you, you’re bound to encounter a roommate issue at some point. Here are our five best tips for managing life with your cohabitors.
If you live in on-campus housing then at the beginning of the semester you filled out a contract with your roommates about general expectations you had about your living arrangements. However, it’s important to remember that the contract shouldn’t remain that one thing you did at the beginning of the year that you now forgot about.
Your roommates can’t read your mind. Crazy, right? That means that if you need to study for a big midterm coming up, you shouldn’t expect your roommate to just know that you’re going to be needing quiet time in the room. They might think you’re studying in the library and invite a bunch of friends over. How were they supposed to know?
So as a good starting point, establish a good method of preventative communication. You can have a whiteboard with your schedule for the week, write in when you need time to study, assign chores, etc. Just don’t expect your roommate to be on the same page as you if you don’t lay it out for them.
- If conflict arises, first TALK to your roommate.
So you laid out all your expectations. You agreed to have the trash taken out every three days, and yet it’s been a week and now bottles are starting to spill out
of your roommate’s bin and your room is developing a weird smell. Even though it seems like the most obvious thing in the world, most people will really struggle with simply confronting their roommates about issues they may have. The good thing is, if you’ve established those ground rules (see point 1), then you bringing up that your roommate should take out the trash shouldn’t hit them out of left field.
However, even when the issues at hand are more severe than smelly trash and they may be things you never talked about before,
It’s important that you at least make some sort of effort to talk things over with your roommate. The RA’s at RIT are here to support you but they will also encourage you to try to sort out the issue yourself before involving a third party. Dealing with conflict is an important life skill to acquire, so why not start now?
- Visit the Ombuds office.
RIT has a plethora of resources available to its student body, one of them being the Ombuds office. If you’ve never heard of it, the Ombuds office provides students and
staff with a confidential, safe, and unbiased space for conflict resolution. You can bring to them any issue that you may be experiencing and they will listen, coach you through conflict resolution tactics, or provide you with any other relevant resources.
It’s important to remember that because the Ombuds office is 100% confidential, if you’re having a very serious conflict that the university needs to made aware of, visiting the Ombuds office does not count as filing a formal notice to the school.
For more information on the Ombuds office, you can visit their website.
- Your roommate doesn’t have to be your best friend.
A lot of people come into college expecting that their roommates are going to be their automatic, built-in best friends, or even yet, they choose to room with their best friends. However, it’s more important that you and your roommate have similar living habits (cleaning, sleeping) and as emphasized in the points above, that the two of you can communicate well.
The dynamics of close friendship can often get in the way of efficient communication, and also – as much as you love your best friend, you might not want to see them 24/7. If your roommate is not your best friend and yet you are able to share a space, you’re on a path to success. Everyone can use their own space and privacy and a place without judgement or clinginess.
- Contact your RA.
If you feel like you have tried everything and your conflicts with your roommates persist, your next avenue should be contacting your RA. They will often try to mediate your conflict and if you come to the conclusion that your living situation is not working, as a last resort , they will be able to get you in contact with resources in order to see if alternate housing is a possible option. Keep in mind that these change requests will eventually have to go through RIT Housing and will be honored based on availability of rooms.