Roommate Relationships

Living with a roommate

Most residence hall students will have at least one roommate. However, there are rooms that are architecturally larger and can accommodate three or four students in a room. Regardless of the number of roommates you may have, one thing is true: Roommate relationships are what you make of them.

Successful roommate relationships are the result of good communication, flexibility, openness, understanding and compromise. You may become best friends with your roommate, but you may not. Take the time at the beginning to get to know each other. Even if your roommate is someone you know, there is a difference between being friends and living together. Your willingness to be a good roommate will greatly increase your odds of a positive roommate relationship.

Some key points for a good relationship are:

  • Spend time getting acquainted.
  • Be willing to listen and speak openly.
  • Try to understand rather than evaluate or judge.
  • Be receptive to different ways of life and different values.
  • Be willing to make compromises.
  • Be aware of assumptions and try to get the facts.
  • Talk about expectations.

If things aren’t going well, there a lot of things we can do to help. Talk with your resident assistant on the floor or the hall director. They can be a great sounding board and as well as offer advice. We can also assist with roommate agreements, a formal mediation, or, if things really are not working, work with you to find a new room.

These tools can help with topics to talk about for setting up expectations for living together.

Tips on what to do when conflict arises between you and your roommate

Do’s

  • Address the problem immediately.
  • Be clear and specific about how you see the issue.
  • Listen carefully to your roommate’s thoughts.
  • Discuss only the current issue.
  • Assume your roommate doesn’t know when something is bothering you. You need to tell him or her.
  • Keep it between your roommate and you.
  • Look for a solution to the problem together and generate a list of options to pick from.
  • Be willing to renegotiate the agreement later as needed.
  • Help create a situation where both you and your roommate can win.
  • Talk to your resident assistant, graduate assistant or hall director. 

Don’ts

  • Wait to address the problem; it will only get bigger.
  • Involve residents on the floor in roommate issues.
  • Bring up past problems with the roommate.
  • Dictate a solution to your roommate.
  • Create a situation where only one of you can win and the other loses.

Roommate responsibilities

Your enjoyment of life in a residence hall will depend, to a large extent, on the thoughtful consideration you and your roommate(s) demonstrate for each other. Remember, living in a community environment means accepting responsibility for the welfare of others. Only you can assure that your roommate enjoys these rights. As a roommate, it is your responsibility to follow the "Roommate Responsibilities" outlined below.

  1. Make sure your roommate’s right to read, study and sleep are free from undue interference from noise, guests and other distractions. Unreasonable noise and other disturbances inhibit the exercise of this right.
  2. Ask permission before borrowing or using any of your roommate’s possessions such as a computer, clothes or food.
  3. Receive permission from roommates before inviting guests to stay overnight (overnight guests of the opposite sex are not allowed). See guest and visitation policy in the Community Living Expectations policy book for more info.
  4. Keep your living environment clean.
  5. Allow your roommates free access to the room and facilities without pressure.
  6. Respect your roommate’s right to personal privacy.
  7. Make sure your guests do not violate or invade your roommate’s rights.
  8. Talk to your roommates when something is bothering you.
  9. Listen to your roommates if there is a problem and try to resolve it.
  10. Bring unresolved problems to the attention of the resident assistant, graduate assistant hall director or hall director after you have talked with your roommate(s).
  11. Respect your roommate’s right to be free from fear of intimidation, physical and emotional harm. Violations will result in disciplinary action.
  12. Treat your roommate as an equal: do not give orders, make unreasonable demands or expect favors.