Sep 11, 2007

Keeping roommate quarrels to a minimum

by Cathy Haas, Life Reporter

Imagine the beginning of a new semester — a fresh start, new classes, new professors, a new dorm and…a new roommate. You think you have arrived early, but to your disappointment, you see that your roommate has had no problems moving in and making him or herself at home, bringing what you assume is all of their belongings and taking up half of the room.  The next thing you know, you are building up full defenses.

So what can be done to keep calm? Alumnus and GNED Professor William Honeycutt stated that the most important thing to do is “sit down and discuss expectations — see if compromises can be made.”  He also commented that communication is imperative.

The Indiana State University (ISU) Web site provides a cumulative list of points to consider when requesting a roommate or dealing with a less favorable one. Suggestions such as communicating are made top priority. “If you have a problem, speak up about it.  Communication does not refer to post-it notes or other notes listing complaints,” advised the site. 

Liberty University offers a convenient survey online for filling out room preferences and making compatible matches for assigned roommates. Although many students have filled out the survey, some say that it did not really help when matching roommates. In addition, many teens may try to room with their best friend because that has always been one of those ideal college dreams. 

However, according to ISU, “Just because you get along with him/her, doesn’t mean you will be able to live with that person.”

Finding common ground and compromise is good in order to prevent extreme tension, but what are wise choices to remember when faced with confrontation? Spiritual Life Director Chelsea Davis commented that she and her roommate strive to stay open with one another. “If something is wrong, then one of us has to call the other out on it — talk about it,” said Davis.  One method that has helped other students is to ask a third party, such as a resident assistant, to mediate between the two parties involved.

According to Pennsylvania State University, it is important to remember, “It’s not always what you say, but how you say it.”  It is also wise to never jump to conclusions or assume anything — always ask! If all else fails and attempting to come to some sort of consensus is not working, remember that you can always request a room change, but there are no guarantees regarding it being a better situation.

At first, many students may tend to worry about adjusting to living with someone they have never met, especially for those who have never spent much time away from home.

However, it is good to remember that many other students are in the same situation. Be honest with your roommate, be willing to compromise and be open to communication.  Most importantly, have some fun and try to enjoy dorm life.

Contact Cathy Haas at

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