How to Avoid Roommate Rumbles


One of the most popular horror stories from college students and alumni are their roommate fiascos. While it is almost inevitable that you will eventually run into a minor setback with at least one roommate over your four years of living at school, sometimes these minor problems require more attention than just cohabitating until the end of the year and agreeing to live apart the next year.

If troubles arise with your roommate, here are some ways that you can work to resolve your problems.

Housing rules and contract

One of the best ways to avoid roommate conflicts in the first place is to set up a list of dorm or house rules to live by in your shared space. While this does not need to be a formal contract, it is a good idea to sit down with your dorm mate, housemates, or suite mates to decide on some general rules. These can include things like quiet hours, kitchen etiquette, what food and dishes can be communal, when chores should be done, and guest rules.

We all have particular habits, as well as pet peeves we abhor. Establishing a house contract right at the beginning of the year (and I’m talking the first few days you’re on campus, if not before you arrive) is helpful in the long run. You can avoid annoying others in your house by accidentally doing things that would be against the rules, such as showering at the wrong time or leaving dishes in the sink for too long. Then no one has to feel awkward telling you to stop, and no one will have their feelings hurt.

Move Week

If you discover right away that you do not want to live with your roommate anymore or that your living styles are not compatible, Move Week is another option to utilize. Offered after the first two weeks of the semester, students are able to come to Housing and ask for a room change with no questions asked. All that you need to move is an idea of an open spot on campus where you want to live. As long as that space is open, housing can move you as soon as possible. While this is a bit of a drastic move, it can be helpful because you do not need to appeal to Housing or other departments of the school to move rooms if your roommate situation does not improve.

Talk to your RA, SRA, or CA

Dorms have a Resident Advisor (RA) and a Senior Resident Advisor (SRA), and Hillsides, Townhouses, and some suites have a Community Advisor (CA). These people are there to assistance you with your housing needs, including roommate troubles. If you feel that a situation is too difficult or too awkward to handle on your own and you want a third party to mediate a conversation to find a solution, your RA is the person to see. These are students who have been trained in conflict resolution and will help you come up with a solution to your problem. If they cannot solve an issue that you are having, they can direct you to another individual or department on campus that can.

Meet with Housing

If you meet with your RA and find that they are not able to resolve your problems with your roommate, they may set up a meeting with you and a member of Residence Life and Housing. Its office is located in the HUB, and manages all the placements of the rooms, as well as disability support in regards to housing. They can help talk you through your situation as well, and possibly figure out a solution that the RA did not have permission to grant. One of these things include temporary emergency housing for particularly harsh problems that allow students to stay in a separate room from their roommate for a few days until a resolution can be found. If Housing cannot figure out a solution to the troubles plaguing you and your roommate, they may be able to provide you with options for moving out of your room or house in the middle or end of the semester.

Counseling Center

Finally, a lesser utilized resource that can help students resolve conflicts with their roommates is the Counseling Center. While the center is not particularly for students with roommate troubles, the counselors there are more than equipped to help you understand the situation and make strides to resolve it. The counselors are there to talk about managing the stress that the conflict is causing, the best ways to handle the issue, or simply just providing a safe place to complain. The center is free and available for appointments online, by phone, or by stopping in for walk-ins.