Best of…(Roommates) Keeping the Peace


The Problem

“She never cleans up after herself and leaves her dirty dishes everywhere!”

“Her boyfriend is constantly in our room—sleeping over, lounging around and eating MY food!”

“She never locks the door at night!”

“She drinks and goes out almost every night and keeps alcohol in our room!”

“In the morning she turns on the lights and her music while I am still sleeping!”

Currently in my second year as a resident assistant (RA) in a freshmen residence hall, I have heard my fair share of complaints from roommates who just don’t get along. Let’s face it: when two women are forced to share an 8X10 cave of a dorm room, quirky character traits can turn into major annoyances and cause knock down drag out fights that can and will make your attempt at co-habitation most miserable.

The next time you can’t bear to hear your roommate’s phone ringing at 4 AM or are forced to wiggle out the door of your room while she and her friends throw back another round of shots, consider these 4 steps for dealing with a problem roommate.

The Solutions

  • Choose the right time. Confronting your roommate with a sensitive issue — such as what they’re doing to drive you over the edge — can be difficult, but it is the first step to a resolution. Try to gauge your schedules and find a time when you and your roommate are both in the room without many distractions.
  • Ease into the issue. When confronting your roommate the last thing you want to do is sit down and say, “Look, I hate when you drink in our room. So quit it.” By bombarding your roommate with the heart of the issue they could easily become offended and simply shut you out completely. Instead, try easing into the issue like this: “I heard we could get in really big trouble if an RA found alcohol in our room. Maybe we shouldn’t have it in here anymore.
  • Reach an agreement before parting ways. Many times roommates will confront each other, talk about it, get upset and simply part ways to avoid talking about the uncomfortable issue any longer. This is not a healthy step in resolving the problem. Once the concerns have been aired make sure to establish some ground rules and/or a mutual agreement about the issue before letting it drop.
  • When in doubt, ask for help! If you’ve run out of ideas for how to confront your problem roommate or are scared to do so in the first place, be sure to ask your own RA or hall director for help. RAs have been trained in the fine art of roommate conflict-resolution, and can hold a conference between you and your roommate or empower you to solve the problem on your own.

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