Roommate Conflict

It’s 2 a.m. and you enter your room to the sound of…screaming pigs? What on Earth is going on? How about you walk into the bathroom in the afternoon and almost slip in a puddle of water—with little bits of ramen! What about that time when for three days straight, you had to study down the hall because there were 12 people in your room, and sitting in your bed? Not everyone is subjected to these scenarios because not everyone has a roommate, but for those who can count themselves among the unlucky, here are some surefire ways to peacefully resolve these issues.

“We civilly discussed the pros and cons to me moving out,” said freshman Tyler Powers.

For most people, that simple conversation can do the trick. However, sometimes one’s words alone are not enough because of a roommate’s failure to either hear or care. At this point the first suggestion is to employ the help of friends. If a couple of mutual friends can have a word or two with your roommate, he or she may come to realize they were out of line and strive to correct it. Having friends address the problem can be non-threatening and allows an easy avenue for peacekeeping. If you don’t have any common friends or don’t know the roommate well enough to find those individuals, there is another source of friendly help.

“Resident assistants can be valuable resources when addressing roommate conflicts because they provide a third-party resource to help the residents feel more comfortable discussing their issues together or apart. If the resident assistant is unable to get the residents to work their issues out, then the resident assistant can help them get connected with their other resources including mediation services,” said senior resident assistant Taliyah White.

Every resident has a resident assistant or RA, who is there to be a guide and source of conflict resolution when needed. They serve as the middle ground between the individuals and the school, able to help resolve small issues before they escalate or suggest more appropriate measures if that resolution is beyond their grasp. RA’s can help when two roommates have an issue that can be resolved but need to be steered gently in the absence of friends. RA’s are not miracle workers, however. Sometimes a larger authority is needed.

“If the resident assistant is unable to get the residents to work their issues out, then the resident assistant can help [the students] get connected with their other resources including mediation services,” said White.

When roommates have a very large issue, or set of issues, that can’t or won’t be addressed by friends or an RA, they can use mediation. When one is too stubborn or careless to change their ways, or else unable to resolve conflict, they need to be officially summoned to discuss their issues with administration as a last resort. This is when the involved parties have a confidential session with student affairs mediators, who attempt to resolve the problems from a neutral standpoint. These meetings are scheduled and documented.

If all of the above steps don’t work, the last option is to have a room switch, which happens based on the outcome of mediation and room availability. In other words, this outcome isn’t guaranteed. Many conflicts are resolved without needing to get to this final step.

Having a roommate can be tricky, and even lead to a host of arguments; however, being an adult means learning to address and resolve conflict, as well as respectfully deal with those around you – including roommates.

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