Not-so-perfect match: How to navigate rocky roommate relationships

The thought of having a roommate can be scary, said Riddhi Patel, West Hall resident assistant. But while navigating this new environment, she urges students to keep an open mind as sometimes roommates can go from being strangers to best friends. 

But it can go the opposite way as well. Patel and other students suggest how to deal with a tricky roommate situation and how to break up with them. 

Jenean Woods, critical languages and international studies freshman and Vandergriff Hall resident, said she did not feel comfortable around her first roommate. 

“We couldn’t talk,” Woods said. “Some days we would say nothing to each other, and some days the most we’d say was 10 words.” 

Their personalities didn’t match, which made her want to switch roommates more than any issues like cleanliness and tendencies to party, she said. 

When any conflicts arise, the resident assistants try to mediate the situation and help roommates compromise by finding a middle ground, as the first option cannot be switching rooms, Patel said. 

It’s important to communicate any issues that arise with your roommates, she said. Most of the time, the other party is not even aware of their wrongdoings or the extent to which their roommate’s being affected by their actions. 

Darshini Damor, industrial engineering graduate student and Arbor Oaks apartment resident, said there will always be roommate conflicts because no one’s going to match with everyone. 

But being able to talk it out peacefully, make a stance clear and allow them to change is how people can coexist, Damor said. 

Patel said if the situation gets to the point where talking to each other doesn’t feel like an option, discussing with resident assistants and allowing them to aid in the issue helps. 

When resident assistants see a common problem affecting many residents, they organize community events and programs like an informational session where they address the issue and give tips to help whether it may be about temperature settings or cleanliness, she said.

The resident assistants can also mitigate issues by bringing out the roommate contract, which lays out the duties and expectations the roommates have and reiterate them to pre-agreed duties or modify the contract to fit the roommates better, Patel said. 

But when confronting and mediating doesn’t work and the situation gets to a point where neither party is willing to compromise under any conditions, it becomes an unsafe environment for either person, she said. 

In this case, students can go to the housing portal and fill in the change request form which then prompts the housing office to move forward with switching rooms, though it can be a very time-consuming process, Patel said. 

Woods said the process is hard, but if the situation becomes bothersome, talking to the resident assistant and getting started is important. 

But students don’t always switch rooms because of conflict, Patel said. It can be due to financial or even religious reasons. 

“[Sometimes it’s] nothing against their roommates, they just need that for themselves,” she said. “It can be because of just the person if they have something that is just personal or any other conflicts.” 

Whatever the conflict is, residents have no obligation to explain their reasons for wanting to switch roommates to their roommates, Patel said. It’s something they can do if they feel comfortable, or they can let the resident assistants handle the situation if they don’t. 


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