Having some issues with your Rommate(s)?? Need someone to help?? Here are some tips from Resident Advisor (RA) Elyse “Spike” Johnson on how to deal with them.
Your first year of college can be a tough time. Between hard classes, new friends, weird food and a roommate, new students are put in a tough position. I’m sure you all remember your first few hours on campus, moving in stuff, being really nice to your new roommate or roommates (not to mention their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and second-cousins that all came to help them move in), and arranging your new stuff in your room. Over the next few days or weeks everything was probably really great with you and your roomies getting along great, eating meals together, running to check your mail together and becoming really close. This is a period of time we Residential Education staff call the honeymoon period. As classes start to get stressful and you make new friends from your major and extracurricular activities, it is easy for the awesome relationship with your roommate to go south really quickly. When this happens, it can often be because of a little thing like them eating your pretzels, or part of a larger issue like sleeping patterns or having guests over. No matter how small or trivial the issue may seem or how large and overwhelming, the best thing you can do is to talk to them. Don’t email, or facebook them, or leave little sticky notes on their desk. Make time to sit down and talk face to face about things that are bothering you. It can be easy to be accusatory and say “you did this, so I feel this,” but try to talk in terms that reflect only how you feel. “I feel really tired after a night where the lights are left on,” for example. This allows them to not feel attacked and to talk to you about their own feelings. If talking isn’t going well, STOP! There are other options! Rather than letting the event escalate to an uncomfortable point, go and talk to your RA. All of us are trained extensively in roommate conflicts (as well as a whole lot else, so in general, we’re just good to talk to). Make an appointment with them, and they can either coach you on how to have that talk with you roommate or they can hold a mediation where you and your roommates will sit down and have that talk with the RA present. If you feel like you’d rather talk to a different RA or directly to the RA’s supervisor, the Area Coordinator, you can do that too (but RAs are on the “front-lines” more often, so you might want to try them first). Never be afraid to explain how you’re feeling or what’s bothering you. Communication is how things happen!