Why build roommate communication?
Have you ever shared a room with a sibling?
Did you share a room while you were in high school?
The Bad News
Most students arrive at the University of Florida without ever having shared a room – or at least they haven’t shared a room recently. Add most students’ lack of experience sharing a room to most students randomly selecting their roommates, and roommate relation issues become more common.
The Good News
Sharing a room is a learned skill. Although it’s easier to learn when you are young and dealing with a sibling, it is not impossible to learn when you’re in college and living with someone you don’t know. The relationship skills you build now will serve you later in business or social settings. You may even develop lifelong friendships.
Good relationships are built on communication. Begin building good communication by spending some time together. Taking time to listen and talk to each other at the beginning of this relationship will help get the year off to a good start. Below are some questions that will help get new roommate talking:
- What are your hobbies/interests?
- What’s your major/field of study and ideal job?
- What are your expectations for the year academically and/or personally?
- What are your religious beliefs/personal values?
- What is your class schedule like?
- Describe your ideal study environment/habits? Can you study with other people in the room?
- What are your thoughts on guests of either gender and appropriate times of visitation?
- What are your attitudes towards alcohol and drug use?
- What are your expectations regarding room cleanliness? How will you divide basic housekeeping duties?
- What have you learned about roommate relationships from previous roommate situations?
- How do you deal with gripes and tension?
Remember to always communicate openly, directly, and immediately as issues arise — each roommate owes the other the courtesy of speaking to him/her first. Don’t put off problems; delayed discussions can lead to explosive problems that become more difficult to resolve. Use our four steps to resolving a roommate conflict as a guide.
Steps to Resolving a roommate conflict
- Step 1 — Complete the Gator to Gator Building Roommate Communications program with your roommate(s). See your RA for info.
- Step 2 — Speak to your roommate(s) directly. State issues neutrally. Relay feelings. Offer resolutions. Be prepared to listen. Are you willing to compromise?
- Step 3 — Ask your RA to intervene by meeting with all involved roommates. Their role is that of a neutral party coordinating roommates to resolve the problem.
- Step 4 — Roommates meet with a Residence Director or Residence Life Coordinator who may serve as a facilitator in resolving the conflict. Roommates may be asked to sign revised Gator to Gator forms. If problems are not resolvable, transfers may be required.
- Step 5 — If roommates have been unable to resolve a conflict at the other levels, the situation will be referred to formal mediation
What if I don’t get along with my roommate?
It is normal to experience difficulties adjusting to living with someone you don’t know. Make all efforts to communicate with your roommate, seek assistance from your resident assistant RA, and work out any conflicts through compromise and communication. After these attempts have been made, you can go through the process to attempt a room transfer.