The art of dorm living

Yelling at 3 a.m. or braiding each other’s hair are probably both extreme versions of living with roommates. However, students will likely still need to solve conflict or disagreements, and they shouldn’t expect to be besties with their housemates.

Living with roommates equals sharing spaces, and students should expect to compromise with their roommates. 

Sharing a space with people that have different expectations can be challenging, but clear communication and flexibility can help.

Sources of Conflict

· Different personalities – Some roommates are going to be introverted and need their space, while others are going to want to socialize. Especially living in a double room, be mindful of giving everyone the alone time they may need or want.

· Cleanliness – People have different preferences for cleanliness. This is probably an area that will require compromise. There are tools like the app Nipto, which gamify cleaning responsibilities or roommates can simply post a cleaning schedule.

· Schedules – School, work and personality play into students’ schedules. It’s likely that roommates will have somewhat different schedules, if not completely different. Depending on comfort levels, roommates can communicate their school and work schedules by posting them on their door, or simply be courteous about brightness and noise like slamming doors when coming back late or early.

· Study habits – Students need and want to study different amounts. They may study at different times. Roommates should be respectful of their roommates study habits, and not pressure them into social activities or cause excessive noise especially around exam time.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB)’s student housing and residential life provides tips for students to resolve conflicts. 

According to CSUMB’s housing website, “despite the tensions that may be present, it is never too late to sit down with all roommates and discuss concerns.”

Step 1: Have a roommate discussion

o   “I” statements where students place the issue on themselves instead of assigning blame can be helpful.

o   Being civil and not getting upset when discussing the issue can keep the situation from escalating.

Step 2: Schedule a meeting with the RA

o   Utilize the Residential Advisor to help facilitate mediation and ensure all parties are heard.

o   Revise the roommate agreement to reflect any of the compromises that are decided at this meeting

The Personal Growth and Counseling Center (PGCC) at CSUMB is available to help students work individually on any issues that are preventing them from cohabiting and working through anxiety their housing situation may cause. 

The PGCC hosts mindfulness sessions, which help students get into a better mindset so they can move forward in a positive direction with their roommates.

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