During the summer you should receive your room assignment and your roommate(s) for the upcoming year. We encourage you to reach out and introduce yourself to your future roommate(s). You can do this by emailing them at the email we provided or through social media sites. Use the time before you move to campus to begin to get to know your new roommate and discuss any moving plans.
Once you arrive on campus, take some time to get to know your roommate(s). Share your mutual interests and discuss any differences you may have. Talk about things that you may not think are a big deal, but which could cause conflict and tension. Remember, you don’t have to be best friends with your roommate, but you do need to live with them in a respectful environment. We have provided some tips and resources to help you in having a successful roommate(s) relationship.
Open Communication is the most important part of a healthy roommate(s) relationship. Roommate(s) relationships are the strongest when students keep lines of communication open. Take time to discuss issues and to get everything out in the open. Roommate(s) conflicts are not the time to be passive aggressive; that just fuels the fire. Using the beginning of the year to discuss and set expectations for the coming year. When a conflict arises, reflect on the expectations you previously set to help you resolve issues before they become unsolvable. As always, your RA is a great resource to assist you in creating open communication with your roommate(s).
No one is making you agree with your roommate’s beliefs, values, or likes and dislikes. But having a tolerant attitude allows you to respectfully disagree with another person without judgment. Remember, it is very possible that your roommate(s) may disagree with one of your values too. Use this opportunity to learn and grow by understanding the point of view of another person.
- Disagreements are normal
Living with a roommate(s) isn’t guaranteed to be all rainbows and butterflies, you are bound to disagree. Know that disagreements are a totally normal part of living with another person. Don’t ignore the disagreements, talk about them! Take care of conflicts that arise right away. The longer you allow things to build up, the worse they get. Try to think about how you can compromise on a situation instead of trying to “win the conflict”. Ask your RA for help if you need a mediator.
Deciding when and how to confront your roommate(s) is an important part of having a healthy roommate(s) relationship. Avoiding confrontation usually means avoiding a solution to the problem. Think of confrontation as the first step in finding a resolution, or the first step in creating a more comfortable living environment. Avoid confrontation when your roommate(s) is running out the door, yelling at you, or about to go to bed. Ask to schedule a time that is convenient for both of you to sit down and talk. Also consider your own state of mind before confronting a problem. If you are really upset, consider talking to your RA first in order to approach the conflict in a more productive time and manner.
- Understanding a Different Point of View
Put yourself in your roommate’s shoes. If you can’t seem to see things from your roommate’s perspective, you are free to disagree but at least you made an honest effort to understand where they are coming from. This may help you to understand why your roommate(s) holds certain beliefs even though you disagree with them.
- If you are wrong, admit it
No one likes it when someone cannot admit that they have made a mistake. Admit when you’re wrong, and by doing so you will encourage your roommate to do the same. Apologize. If you owe your roommate(s) an apology, give it. An apology can help to restore a relationship and create a more positive living environment.
- Have Fun!
Living on campus should be a fun experience. Spend quality time getting to your roommate(s) and have fun. Remember, however, that there are a lot of people in your hall you can spend time with. Get to know your neighbors and other residents in the community and make the most of the residence hall experience.
We have created a form consisting of a list of topics to help roommates and suitemates better understand each other's needs, beliefs and expectations. You can print out the form below and fill it out with your roommates or suitemates to use as a guideline for a respectful and fun living environment.
Things for you to think about before living with a roommate:
- What are my “pet peeves” or things that I can easily get frustrated about?
- What do I value in a roommate(s) relationship? How will this affect my ability to live with someone else?
- How do I like to deal with conflict? Am I willing to confront someone?
- What times do I prefer to study? Sleep?
- Am I ok with having overnight guests? What about a significant other?
Suggested Questions to Ask Your Roommate:
Before you move in:
- Where are you from? Why did you choose The University of Iowa?
- Who is bringing X (i.e. refrigerator, microwave, tv, etc.) item?
- How do we want to arrange the space?
Move – In Day:
- What do you like to do for fun?
- What kind of room decorations or posters do we want?
- How neat does the space need to be so we are both happy?
- How do we want our beds configured? (remember both roommates must sign off on bed configuration work orders)
Within the first couple of days:
- Are you a morning person or a night owl?
- When do you have to get up in the morning?
- What kind of alarm do you use? Is it ok to press snooze? How many times can someone ignore their alarm?
- How messy or neat do you keep your room?
- Will you let your roommate(s) use/borrow any of your belongings? Do you want them to ask first?
- Do you sleep with the windows open or closed? Do you like the room warm or cool?
- How do you feel about visitors or overnight guests? Significant others? Do you want to be asked ahead of time about them coming?
- Are you going to study in your room? Do you study with music on or in silence? Is it ok for me to play music, watch tv, etc. while you study?
- Do you plan on going out?
Other suggested topics to discuss:
- Study habits
- Noise levels
- Security of your room (locking doors/windows)
- Having people over
- Phone/skype use
- Overnight guests
- Hygiene and cleaning (who is responsible for what)
- Borrowing items
- Sleep habits
- Room temperature
We know that it can be a big transition to live with a roommate for the first time and our staff is here to help if you experience conflict. Your RA is a great resource to help you navigate a challenging roommate conflict or even just a small conflict. They can assist you in completing a roommate agreement with your roommate if a conflict arises or can mediate a conversation. Use them as a resource!