Residence Life & Student Housing

You and Your Roommate(s)

One of the most rewarding aspects of living on-campus is the opportunity to establish close friendships with people from a variety of backgrounds. Whether your roommate is a close friend from home or someone you are meeting for the first time, your roommate relationship can work and even be fun. Most people enjoy the company of others and your roommate(s) can be someone with whom to share ideas, interests and good times.

For many, sharing a room is a new experience and can sometimes result in a few misunderstandings. Getting to know and understand your roommate(s) early is very important! This first step will lead to easier communication. Developing a good relationship early on may help you to approach your roommate(s) when you discover an issue on which you do not agree. Also, be aware that your roommate(s) may approach you for similar reasons. Avoiding problems does not work.

Roommates do not need to be best friends, but it helps if they are fair, honest and considerate with one another. Every resident needs to take responsibility for his or her own behavior and to share responsibility for the roommate relationship. To have a good roommate, be a good roommate. Getting along usually requires work, but the benefit of establishing good relationships makes the work worthwhile. Even if lifelong friendship is not established, learning to live with each other’s differences without infringing on one another’s freedom is a valuable part of your education.

Roommate & Suitemate Agreements

All residents are required to complete a Roommate or Suitemate Agreement during the first week of classes. RAs in the residence halls will then meet with each roommate pair within the first month of class to discuss their roommate agreement. (Students living in the apartment communities can use these agreements as well. See a staff member for more information.)

Communication is essential to a positive, working relationship with any roommate or suitemates. To facilitate this process, it is important to address potential problem areas. By discussing the issues in the Roommate or Suitemate Agreement, roommates and suitemates will begin to develop the kind of relationship that is conducive to positive academic, community and personal growth. This process will also reduce or eliminate the possibility of conflict and increase communication between roommates and suitemates.

Helpful Hints to Make it Work

Communicate:  The key to a successful relationship with your roommate(s) is communication. Sit down and talk about habits, preferences, moods, and values. Even if your roommate is your “best friend,” you will be surprised to find out some things you did not know about him/her. If something is bothering you, the sooner you talk about it, the sooner it can be resolved.

Be understanding:  Everyone has those days when everything seems to go wrong and bad moods are the result. Try to be understanding and help one another through the hard times. Making it through the rough days builds stronger relationships.

Give each other some space:  Togetherness is great, but you can have too much of a good thing. Consider your roommate’s needs for time alone and establish your own quiet time also. Be realistic: don’t expect your roommate to be your best friend and constant companion. Continuous close contact can strain even the best friendships.

Establish Ground Rules:  Roommates need to establish ground rules regarding the use of each other’s belongings, room cleaning, phone use, bill paying, entertaining guests, and study environment. Knowing where the other(s) stands on these matters prevents future disagreements.

Discuss potential areas of conflict

  • Be open to compromises.
  • If your roommate is doing something you don’t like, don’t repress your feelings. Its usually better to air gripes rather than to store up a lot of petty grievances, which lead to a major blow-up.
  • Be considerate of your roommate’s privacy. Never assume your roommate is just like you. You are both individuals.
  • Always ask permission. Don’t just use the iron or eat the cookies, even if you think it might be O.K.
  • Appreciate your roommate. Praise, respect and courtesy are the foundations for any positive relationship.
  • Avoid being judgmental. You are not your roommate’s keeper.
  • Be honest, assertive and stand up for yourself.
  • Ask your RA or HD for advice. They are trained to help mediate conflicts.

You and your roommate are individuals with particular interests, goals, likes and dislikes. You may not find it necessary to share every aspect of college life with him/her. If conflicts do arise, speak with your roommate first; talk a problem through before it becomes a major conflict. If after having talked with your roommate you still can’t resolve the conflict, talk with your RA or HD. Your hall staff is experienced in dealing with roommate problems and should be able to give you some sound advice. Remember, though, you owe your roommate(s) the courtesy of speaking with him/her first.

updated August 2011