Requiring a balance of respect and consideration, positive roommate relationships can be one of the most rewarding and memorable aspects of your college experience.  To help lessen stress as you prepare to arrive at UMF, the Department of Student Life, has put together some tips and tricks to successful residence hall living.

Positive communication

  • Positive communication is the foundation for successful roommate relationships.
  • When you receive your roommate assignment, we suggest refraining from looking up your intended roommate on social media. Instead, take some time to get to know one another.
  • If you already know each other, then get reacquainted. Some talking points we suggest include, classes you will be taking, activities you will be involved in, any job opportunities you are interested in.
  • Discuss what each of you wants and needs in order to live together well – don’t wait until an issue arises. Examples include: how do each of you like to study; with music or silence? What about your sleeping styles; do you need the room as dark as possible or is some light OK?
  • Many students find living with a friend to be tough at times. Going over these details can help avoid and minimize any problems.
  • It can be great when roommates are also friends, but it may not be a mutual expectation. Having an open conversation with your roommate about your expectations is helpful. The main goals are for you to live together peacefully and respect one another.

TIP: At your first floor meeting, your CA will give you a Roommate Agreement to complete. This agreement goes over all of the common communication issues and can help guide a conversation between you and your roommate. The Roommate Agreement can be referred to and updated as needed.

Room Arrangements

  • Room organization and cleanliness can lead to roommate issues. A part of the Roommate Agreement focuses on discussing how to meet the needs of everyone living in the space. Topics include: how roommates would like to handle keeping shared items, like fridges, clean; if roommates want to rotate throwing out trash for the room or if they will dispose of their own; and expectations of room cleanliness.
  • You have the right to a clean room and the responsibility to maintain its cleanliness.

TIP: Student Life Staff suggest that if you have a concern or issue with room cleanliness or arrangements that you go to your roommate first. Being straightforward without accusing the person helps to open a dialog about an issue. If the conversation doesn’t go as well as planned, you can let your roommate know that you would like to go to staff for help.

Consideration

  • Realizing how you affect one another is a key to a successful roommate relationship. Don’t assume that you roommate is OK with you using their items. Some roommates prefer to provide their own supplies and food, while other share after deciding who will buy what. Have an open conversation early to avoid issues.
  • If you would like to borrow or use something belonging to your roommate, you should always ask them first. If your roommate agrees, it is suggested that you return or replace it right away or pay for a replacement. For example, if you borrow your roommates hair dryer returning it when you’re finished.
  • Don’t take it personally if your roommate is uncomfortable sharing items. Because any item may be sentimental or there may be financial constraints, we suggest having an conversation with your roommate about how you are feeling so that you may better understand their perspective.
  • If a roommate wants something in the room that makes you uncomfortable, say so. An example of this is establishing guest expectations. A guest is anyone not assigned to the room – including classmates. Having an open dialog of your expectation of when guests will be in the room and what they are able to sit on or use while in the room will help avoid future conflicts. If you need help with these conversations, please speak with Student Life Staff.
  • If you want alone time, discuss what can be arranged to have the room to yourself occasionally.

Interpersonal Skills

  • Connecting with your roommate(s) involves a degree of understanding. You may be living with someone very different from yourself. This is a great opportunity to learn more about another religion or culture or to educate a roommate about your culture. Respecting each other is key.
  • Understand that sometimes classes, personal circumstances, and more can lead to stress. If you notice your roommate is acting differently, you should try to talk to them initially, but you can also always reach out to staff for assistance. If your are concerned  about your roommate, please notify a staff member. It’s never about getting someone into trouble – it’s about wisely and compassionately getting someone the help they may need.

Schedules

  • Talk about what you each need before a problem can arise. For instance, maybe your roommate can use headphones at night while watching Netflix or perhaps you can eat breakfast in the dining hall instead of your room to minimize noise in the morning.

Conflict Resolution

  • Don’t be discouraged if your roommate is doing something that bothers you or vice versa. In any shared living arrangement, this can happen.
  • Bring up concerns right away.
  • Use “I” statements to describe how you feel. Example: I have a hard time sleeping with bright lights on. Could you please use your desk lamp after midnight instead of the ceiling light?
  • Avoid generalizing behaviors unfairly with words like “always” and “never”. Example: You’re always so rude! You don’t even care that I haven’t slept well for a week!
  • Be specific so your roommate understands exactly what you need.
  • Don’t drop hints – many people won’t pick up on them and you can become frustrated.
  • Don’t resort to social media or text messages; be discreet yet direct.
  • Don’t delay bringing up important issues.
  • Don’t bring up a long list of issues all at once and overwhelm your roommate.

TIP: Switching rooms or roommates seems like an obvious solution to roommate conflicts, but space on campus can be limited and roommate conflicts will follow you if you are not willing to anticipate them beforehand and resolve them when they occur. We suggest trying to work out roommate issues and conflicts when they arise with your roommate first. If there’s no improvement, then speak with Student Life Staff for assistance.

Please contact Kelsey Champagne-Smith, Assistant Director of Housing and Academic Success, at 207-778-7488, if you need assistance with a roommate concern.