As with any relationship, it sometimes takes students a while to learn how to live together and to share the same living space. The RA will sit down with the roommates during the first month of school to help them complete a roommate contract. The roommate contract is designed to help them communicate their boundaries and expectations. The roommate contracts are kept on file in the RES office and can be viewed/altered at any time by the resident students if the need arises.
While sharing a room with another person can be a test of one's patience, it can also be a very rewarding experience. Once students understand the importance of communicating their feelings, compromising and exercising patience, problems are often easily resolved. You may want to suggest that your son or daughter take the following steps to hopefully resolve the problems he/she is currently having with his/her roommate(s):
- Air gripes and concerns immediately, before they escalate.
- Acknowledge and respect one another's feelings.
- Be realistic about expectations.
- Keep the lines of communication open at all times.
- Be considerate of one another's privacy and possessions.
- There is a lot of learning that occurs outside the classroom and our goal is to help your student develop into a well-rounded individual. Some very important parts of human development are learning how to live with different people, communication skills, and conflict resolution skills. We view a roommate conflict as one of the greatest opportunities to learn all these skills. Therefore, we take a very developmentally focused approach in addressing these issues.
For instance, we require students to speak with their roommates first so they can have the experience of confrontation and develop their communication skills. If this is too much for a particular student, we try to coach them through the process so that they can go into the experience with all the necessary tools. If the confrontation of a roommate does not resolve the issue, we progressively become more and more involved. Our next step would be mediation with their RA and if that does not solve it, then the issue would go to the RD for final resolution.