Living in a residence hall room with another person can be a challenge. Students are often matched with a roommate that they have never met before. People who are great friends may even find that they do not make great roommates. Adjusting to the behaviors and habits of another person within a small space can be challenging. Reviewing the Roommate Agreement Form may be helpful when challenging situations arise. Life in the residence hall can be challenging at times, but the residence hall experience also gives students the opportunity for tremendous personal growth.
Common causes of roommate conflicts include differences in personal values, interpersonal relationship styles, cultural differences, and general lifestyles. Politics, religion, and sex are at the root of many values based conflicts. Lifestyle differences can include music and food preferences, sleep and study habits, hygiene habits, organizational style, and involvement in social activities. Interpersonal relationship issues may arise when people have different communication styles and miscommunication occurs. Email, voice mail, snail mail, texting, and notes taped up in the room give students a variety of communication options. Ensuring that the roommate receives the message is just as important as leaving the message!
When you observe students with difficult roommate relationships:
- Be patient and remain calm.
- Make a list explaining how the behavior is impacting you.
- Discuss the problem with your Resident Assistant.
- Discuss the problem with Counseling Services.
- Speak to your roommate privately about your concerns.
- If a resolution cannot be reached, reach out for help from the professional staff at Housing and Residential Life.
- If you are an international student, or have a roommate who comes from a different country, discuss the problem with International Programs and Services.
- Ignore the problem and think it will go away by itself.
- Assume your roommate knows there is a problem.
- Retaliate, scream, or physically fight.
- Blimling, G. (2010). The resident assistant. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Pub.
- Michigan Tech., Housing and Residential Life, “Roommate Agreement” form