Living with Others
You and Your Roommate
Living in a residence hall community, and more specifically with a roommate, will provide you with opportunities to develop interpersonally and to learn about yourself and others. You are embarking on a journey of sorts, one that will at times frustrate and at other times stimulate you. You will be challenged to grow and develop in ways you may not anticipate right now. This section is intended to start this process by providing you with some food for thought, i.e., what to expect including some situations that normally occur in residence halls. Suggestions for resolving some of the conflicts that may arise are offered along with ideas for making your residence hall experience both enjoyable and educational.
Cooperation is the realization that you and your roommate are in this together. Such a joint venture requires an honest attempt to make the relationship work. Cooperation encourages mutual satisfaction rather than win-lose outcomes. Compromise does not necessarily mean accepting something less than satisfactory. Living with another person challenges your creativity and problem-solving skills to find ways in which there can be two winners.
Think about yourself: Who are you and what are you like to live with? More specifically, consider the following questions:
- What kind of environment or place makes you feel most secure?
- What are the key elements of such a place? How can you create a similar feeling in your room on campus?
- How would you describe your lifestyle to a total stranger?
- Have you shared a room in the past? If so, what did you like or dislike about this arrangement?
- How comfortable are you about expressing your needs?
- What are your attitudes about:
- sharing your belongings, including food and beverages
- drinking and use of other drugs
- persons of the opposite sex visiting your room
- neatness and cleanliness of room
You and your roommate can be very different and still have a successful roommate relationship. Maybe you'll become close friends, maybe not. It is important that your expectations are realistic or you may be disappointed. DON'T EXPECT YOUR ROOMMATE TO BE JUST LIKE YOU or like your friends at home. Tolerance and openness to new things are necessary components of a successful residence hall experience. Expect to encounter some problems. After all, it's unrealistic to expect two strangers who share a small space to get along all the time. Expect a little "cabin fever" during the winter when you may feel like climbing the wall if your roommate tells that same old joke one more time. Talk about your expectations of each other.
We recommend filling out a Roommate Agreement Form (pdf) with your roommate at the beginning of the school year to help establish and maintain a cooperative living environment between the two of you.
We also recommend filling out a Suitemate Agreement Form (pdf) with your suitemates at the beginning of the school year to discuss how you will use any shared spaces. You can give this form to your RA for safekeeping. If you need to refer to it in the future, your RA will provide you with it.
If you need help resolving a conflict between you and your roommate, visit our Conflict Resoltion page for some helpful advice.