Conflicts sometimes occur when two people sharing a living space. We have found that many of our students come to college having grown-up with a private room at home and no sharing their possessions; as such, when they move into a residence hall, life looks very different. While no two roommate conflicts are exactly the same, many have common root causes. We ask that you (and your student) please review the guide below, as it will assist them in addressing and solving roommate conflicts. While we are always more than happy to talk through any concerns you may have, we will expect your students to approach their RA or Head Staff with these issues. We can be of best service when we work directly with the students involved.
Conflict Prior to Move-In
Our office routinely hears comments and concerns about the potential roommate of a student. With the advent of social media and sites such as Facebook, most students turn to pulling their potential roommate’s Facebook page up rather than calling and having a direct conversation. We have heard requests from people, who have never spoken to their roommate, already asking for a room reassignment.
The first thing to remember is: do not rush to judgment. Many students don’t accurately reflect themselves on social media pages. For that reason, our staff will not reassign a student based off information put out on social media. Encourage your student to remain open-minded, and if s/he sees something of concern, talk with the new roommate about the potential issue.
Sometimes our office hearings concerns related to a student’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or class standing/age. Our staff is well equipped and trained to speak with anyone regarding these concerns; however, reassignment due to one of the aforementioned reasons can constitute a discriminatory housing practice. Though your student may be living with someone drastically different, we encourage you and your student to approach the circumstance with an open mind, and stay open to accepting and learning about the differences of others.
Whenever there is a complaint or concern, regardless if it occurs prior to or after move-in, in nearly all circumstances it will be the complainant who is responsible for submitting a reassignment request. University Housing will not administratively relocate students except for extreme circumstances. Because of this, we don’t reassign students that have not requested reassignment.
Conflict After Moving-In
So your student has been living with their roommate for a while and things aren’t working out. Maybe the roommate comes home late and flips on the lights, disturbing your student. Or maybe they chronically borrow your student’s things and now they’re fed up.
The first thing to remember is that there are two sides to every story; for all anyone knows, that student is somewhere in the world saying the same thing about yours! A second thing to remember is that hall staff is here to ensure the safety and comfort of all students. Therefore, we need to keep the wellbeing of both parties in mind as we go about addressing the situation.
Roommate conflicts are the exception rather than the norm, but they do happen. This is why we have an adept student and professional staff available to serve as resources as your student (and their roommate) navigate this difficult time. We’ve prepared some tips below that we hope you will communicate to your student the next time they call with a grievance about their roommate!
- Don’t see the situation as unsalvageable– Yes, roommate situations can be taxing and emotional. But your first thought shouldn’t be to move out. College is about more than just learning in the classroom, it’s also learning how to deal with and negotiate interpersonal conflicts. If you’re at your job and you don’t like your co-worker, would your first thought be to switch jobs? The vast majority of roommate conflicts do not end in reassignments.
- Have the issues been communicated? - And by communicated, we don’t mean through Facebook posts, sticky notes, text messaging, or annoyed grunts. Have you sat down and openly discussed the issues you have with your roommate? How did they respond? How much of your grievance can you write on a post-it note? Just enough for it to be taken the wrong way. If you are not comfortable bringing these issues up with your roommate or you’re not sure how, Resident Assistants and professional staff are here to help you come up with a way to communicate your concerns with your roommate. Eventually, your concerns will need to be communicated, and we are more than happy to assist!
- Has mediation occurred? – Our RAs are trained and skilled mediators that can assist in handling many kind of interpersonal conflict. Have they sat down with their RA? What goals and compromises have been made by both parties? Has the situation improved or stayed the same? It is important that after mediation, you continue informing your RA about how the living conditions are in your space and if you feel that your roommate is respecting the agreement set forth.
- Have you spoken to your Head Staff? – Head staff are professional Residence Coordinators and Assistant Coordinators that supervise the RA staff. If you have worked with your RA and don’t feel that the situation has improved, feel free to speak to your Head Staff. Our doors are always open and we are always willing to assist.
If you feel that your student’s options have been exhausted, they are welcome to submit a reassignment request to the University Housing office. Reassignment requests are processed by availability and in priority number. If your student has indicated willingness in many different types of residence halls in any style room, they are far more likely to be moved quickly. Once a reassignment has been made, your student is obligated to complete their move within forty-eight (48) hours of notice.