After you have chosen a roommate, contact your roommate before arriving on campus. Included in your assignment letter from University Housing & Dining Services is the name and address of your future roommate. Write an email or connect on facebook to introduce yourself to him/her. Once you arrive on campus, spend time getting to know your roommate. Share your mutual interests and discuss your differences. Talk about some things that you might not think are a big deal, but which could cause conflict and tense situations.
Establish ground rules early and keep lines of communication open throughout the year. Take time to discuss issues and get everything out in the open. When conflicts arise, reflecting on these topics can help resolve disputes before they become unsolvable. If faced with a particularly difficult situation, talk with your Resident Assistant. If your RA is not able to assist you, he/she will refer you to someone who can. Listed below are suggested topics to discuss with your roommate(s).
We have created the Roommate Agreement Form that you can download and use as a tool to discuss expectations and document your agreements.
Understand that living with a roommate doesn't automatically make that person your best friend. In fact, you may not even consider your roommate a friend at all. On the other hand, you might turn out to be great friends. The most important thing to understand is that the person you live with should be a good roommate, nothing more nothing less.
There's no law that says you have agree with your roommate's beliefs, values, or likes and dislikes. But a tolerant attitude allows you to respectfully disagree with one another without making a judgment call about that person. Remember, it is entirely possible that they disagree with one of your values too. Ideally you can learn and grow by understanding the point of view of another person.
Realize that disagreements are an ordinary part of life that help clear the air. Don’t ignore disagreements. Talk about them! Take care of conflicts right away. The longer things build up, the worse they get. Work at achieving a compromise as a way to avoid or end conflict. Ask your hall staff member for help if you need a mediator.
Avoiding confrontation usually means avoiding a problem that will need to be resolved sooner or later. Think of confrontation as the first step to resolution, and as such, the first step to reestablishing a harmonious living environment. But sometimes confrontation fails, especially when the timing is wrong. Avoid confrontation when your roommate is running out the door, yelling at you or about to go to bed. Judge what time is best to approach your roommate or ask to schedule a time that is convenient for both of you to sit down and talk.
Put yourself in the other person's shoes. If you still can't seem to see things from your roommate's perspective, you're free to disagree. But at least you made an honest effort to understand where your roommate is coming from, which, in itself, may provide the insight you need to understand why your roommate holds certain beliefs even though you disagree with them.
No one likes a person who can't admit when they make a mistake. So admit when you're wrong, and by doing so you'll encourage your roommate to do the same. Apologize. Nothing can restore a relationship more than a sincere apology. If you owe your roommate an apology, give it.
Living in a residence hall should be a fun and rewarding experience. Spend quality time with your roommate and have fun together. Remember, however, that there are a lot of other people in your residence hall to spend time with. Get to know your neighbors and other building residents and make the most of the residence hall living experience.
"Everybody is different, so open yourself to the experience; roommates will help you understand lifestyles other than your own."
Compiled by: Melissa Yamamoto, Former Assistant Director of Residential Life, OSU