Community Living: Resolving Roommate Conflict

Don’t be like this.

Living in a dorm community is a rewarding experience, but living with a roommate can be an intimidating addition to the transition of moving into a college dorm.

Here are some situations that could arise when you live with a roommate:

Scenario 1: It’s 7:00 a.m. and you don’t have an early class. You know your roommate has class at the same time, but her alarm starts ringing and she presses the snooze button. Five minutes later, it goes off again! This continues for a full hour before your roommate gets out of bed, but you’ve been awake the whole time!

Scenario 2:You just went to the grocery store to stock up on some snacks. Your roommate chooses not to go to the grocery with you, but then proceeds to eat most of the snacks you bought, without offering to help pay for them.

Scenario 3:Your roommate’s girlfriend is in your room all the time. You get along really well, but you start to feel like you’re invading their space. Your roommate doesn’t seem to notice that there’s a problem, but you can’t relax or focus in your own room.

Now, these situations won’t arise with every roommate pair, and none of them should come to the point of cat fights! Here are a few tips to help deal with those conflicts that pop up throughout the year!

1.   Set up some expectations when you move in together. One idea is to make a roommate contract the first night you spend together in the dorm. Decide how clean you want to keep the room, when you can/cannot have friends over, what you will/will not have in the room (food and the like), etc. This will establish some clear boundaries that both of you need to respect. If you make a contract, you can reference the contract if conflict arises! For example, if you agree that you will alternate taking out the trash and your roommate fails to take out the trash during his week, you can reference the contract when you attempt to resolve the conflict!

2.   Open doors of communication! The key to resolving roommate conflict is open, honest, direct communication. The sooner you communicate with your roommate about any issues that come up, the sooner you can resolve issues without letting any anger or resentment build up! When talking to your roommate about conflict, remain positive. Focus on how a certain conflict makes you feel. So, rather than saying “you are the sloppiest person in the entire world and you make the room disgusting,” you can say, “I really enjoy living with you but it makes me feel uncomfortable when the room gets this messy. Could we set up a cleaning schedule to make it easier on both of us?”

3.   Go through the proper channels to resolve conflict. Your first level of communication when resolving conflict is your roommate! Talk it out and be honest! Work through and try to compromise. Next, if that doesn’t work, set up a meeting with your RA. They can try to walk through the conflict with both you and your roommate! Keep an open mind – they’re thoroughly trained to help you through roommate conflict! Finally, if nothing works, ask the residence life staff to arrange for you switch roommates. It may feel awkward, but it’s better for you to enjoy your living situation and be able to relax in your own room so that you can perform better in the classroom!

When it comes to living with another person, conflicts will arise! You have a choice of how you are going to resolve conflicts with your roommate. Check out these tips as well!

– Maggie Heaberlin
Class of ’12