Ways to avoid a snowball of roommate crises

Have you ever had an awful roommate to where you couldn’t even be in the room with them? That’s how Alex feels. Her roommate partied every night, threw up in the room and never cleaned the room. Roommate problems can easily spiral out of control and always should be dealt with quickly.

Usually the first, and most common, problem to arise between roommates is having different schedules. Aaron Camp, former Resident Assistant for 3 years, Resident Assistant of the Year for 2007-2008, and Programmer of the Year, 2007-2008, says “You may think your class schedule is none of your roommate’s business, but it’s helpful because people need and want privacy and, during that privacy, they may engage in activities you would rather not know about, so share your schedules.”

Be respectful of your roommate if he or she is trying to sleep while you are getting ready for an early class or early meeting.

After you have shared your schedules, both roommates need to set-up visitation and quiet time rules. You or your roommate may need to study and might not want to be forced out of the room by friends, videogames, or other social meetings. Address issues of friends or significant others coming over late by setting-up visitation hours.

“Have open dialogue regarding time and personal needs,” explains Camp. “Have a code, a code that signifies to your roommate that, hey, your friends are getting too loud, or I plan to head to bed soon.”

This code could be a text message, something on the door or anything that works for both parties.

If you or your roommate are taking or borrowing each others’ stuff without asking, it’s a substantial problem. Jennifer Wilson, ARD of Norton Road Hall, said, “All roommates need to set-up boundaries in the beginning about what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

If you don’t set-up boundaries right off, lines will be crossed and each roommate will start to get frustrated about something.

“At the beginning of the year RA’s encourage residents to talk with their roommate and set up guidelines,” according to Claire Karriker, second year RA in Albright-Benton Hall. Talk about it when you first move in so everyone feels comfortable.

Cleanliness of the room and keeping it clean is fourth most common problem with roommates. If your roommate is not keeping his/her side of the room clean, talk to him or her about it. Each roommate should respect each other and keep all aspects of the room clean.

Also, take turns cleaning the shower, sink and toilet, if you have them. Do not be the only person cleaning. Camp advises roommates to “devise a plan that details who will clean what and when and discuss what things you would rather not tolerate like spoiled milk in the fridge, hair in the drainer, overflowing trash that smells.”

If your roommate continues to disrespect or ignore set rules, contact your RA. Your RA will formulate a roommate contract for both roommates.

Michael Fitzwater, first year RA for Norton Road Hall says, “Roommate contracts are necessary. RA’s are here to mediate between the two parties and set ground rules. The key to making roommate contracts work is give and take from both sides, it has to be both parties.” 

Make sure to deal with problems when they come up. If you ignore them, the problem escalates, causing additional and unnecessary stress. Avoid a snowball of crises later.