Roommate Relationship | Fitchburg State University
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Roommate Relationship

Community Living and Mutual Respect

Two students reading a magazineLiving in a residence hall is a unique experience. It is unlikely after you leave the halls that you will ever again find yourself surrounded by 35 housemates sharing a bathroom and a common lounge. Living in a group setting requires some adjustment in personal habits and attitude. All residents have a role to play in establishing a positive community environment.

Residence halls are community of people from diverse backgrounds. Each person is a unique individual drawn from a broad spectrum of our society. It is important that we each strive to understand the individuality and life choices of those among us. We can best learn from each other in an atmosphere of positive encouragement and mutual respect.

It is our belief that behavior demonstrates one's commitment to respecting the difference among individuals. We are individually and collectively responsible for our behavior and accountable for our actions. We must each take the initiative and responsibility for our learning and awareness of the rich culture that exists in our residence hall community. Before you act, think about how your behavior supports the rights and freedoms of those who live around you.

Personal Decision Making

Female head with a floating question mark

University life is all about choices. Personal decision making can be a difficult process, particularly when you are faced with having to make several decisions simultaneously. You will be exposed to learning opportunities and challenges, all of which will happen as a result of your personal decision making. Decision making is an ongoing process, as one decision has an impact on another. They will be your decisions and you will have to accept responsibility for them. Remember that your decisions will not be made in a vacuum. You are now a member of the community and, as such, should assume an active role in developing and maintain an atmosphere that promotes success for all members.

The best way to go about making a decision is to first identify the problem, then identify the options and pick one. With the option you have selected, think about possible consequences. For example, what are the positive and negative outcomes that are probable? If you are comfortable with the positive outcome, then act on the decision. If you are not comfortable, start the process over. Be sure to reflect upon the choices that were made and the real outcomes of those decisions. Focus on what you have learned through the process.

The following questions are a practical set of suggestions that can be useful to you during university life and beyond. Feel free to use them before and after making decisions.

  1. Am I in the right frame of mind to make this decision now?
  2. Did I consider all the options that were available to me?
  3. Did I only focus on the short-term solutions?
  4. Was I in any way influenced by peer pressure?
  5. Was the influence that others had on my decision a positive or negative one?
  6. How did my decision impact others in my environment?
  7. Can I assume responsibility for the decision that I have made?
  8. Was I honest with myself throughout the entire process?
  9. Am I proud of the decision that I have made?
  10. Was there anything that I could have done to make a better decision?
  11. Is there anyone that I can consult with before and after making my decision?

Did you know…

  • Roommates are a greater influence on each other’s grade point average (GPA) than faculty.
  • Roommates have a greater influence on each other’s study habits than any other relationship.
  • Students learn very little about themselves from friends who are usually warm, friendly and supportive and learn more from friends who are different and challenge their ideas.
  • Ten years after graduating, most graduates identify the relationships they established as the most significant learning experiences that occurred while they were in school.

As the above research confirms, getting along with your roommate greatly affects you and your overall university experience.

RA’s are available to help roommates with their difference, but most of them will tell you that it’s up to the roommates to do the real work in resolving difference. As one RA explained, “I am here to be a sounding board for students who are willing to talk out their problem, but I am not here to be a referee." Now, on to some RA’s suggestions for roommates:

  1. Be Realistic. Don't expect your roommate to be your best friend and constant companion. Continuous contact can strain even the best friendships.
  2. Talk about differences. Once you've settled in a bit, take time out to discuss differences between you. Check with your RA for more information about how to do this.
  3. Keep those lines of communication open. Listen for feelings as well as words to understand what your roommate is saying.
  4. Be timely. If your roommate is doing something that bothers you, don’t ignore your feelings. It’s usually better to air gripes directly than to store them and a have a major blow-up later.
  5. Work at it. Be willing to make compromises, maybe even make a list of ground rules about important issues. This will lessen the chance of arguments over simple misunderstandings in the future.