Roommate Relationships

Living in a residence hall room with another person can be a challenge. Roommates who are paired together by the University usually have never met before; however, even great friends may find that they do not make great roommates. Adjusting to the behaviors and habits of another person within a small space can be difficult. Reviewing the Roommate Agreement Form may be helpful when a conflict arises. The residence hall experience, while trying at times for some, affords students the opportunity for tremendous personal growth.

Common causes of roommate conflicts include differences in personal values, interpersonal relationship styles, culture, 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, texting, and notes taped up in the room give students a variety of communication options.

If you observe a student having difficulty with a roommate relationship:

Do

Encourage the student to

  • be patient and remain calm.
  • make a list explaining how the behavior is impacting her/him.
  • discuss the problem with the Resident Assistant.
  • discuss the problem with Counseling Services.
  • speak to her/his roommate privately about the concerns.
  • reach out for help from the professional staff at Housing and Residential Life, if a resolution cannot be reached.
  • discuss the problem with International Programs and Services, if she/he is an international student or has a roommate who comes from a different country.

Don't

Discourage the student from

  • ignoring the problem and thinking it will go away by itself.
  • assuming the roommate knows there is a problem.
  • retaliating, screaming, or physically fighting.

References