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Can’t stand your roommate? Here’s what you should do.

A bad roommate allows someone to spend the night without asking for their roommate's permission.
A bad roommate allows someone to spend the night without asking for their roommate's permission.

Having a new roommate can be difficult, especially if you are crammed into a  single room together. You’ve never met. You hardly know each other. For all you know, this could be the beginning of a really bad horror movie.

Don’t worry. It won’t be that bad, but it is a challenge—a challenge that needs to be conquered. Here are a few steps to help you overcome and, if necessary, move on from your roommate difficulties.


How to avoid conflict

Let’s talk about how you can avoid conflict in the first place.

Now, I do not mean bottle up your feelings and never tell your roommate that it drives you crazy when she plays music in the middle of the night.

At the very beginning of the year, sit down together, and write down your expectations for each other.

Do you expect your roommate to keep his side of the room clean during the year? If you share a bathroom, who will clean it  and when? When will the trash be taken out?

Make a schedule, and commit to following it. It will help you avoid conflicts to begin with instead of trying to remedy them later.

However, if your roommate has had seven tests in two days and hasn’t managed to take out the pile of trash by the door, the least you can do is be understanding. Don’t let it become a habit, but don’t push your roommate away and try to change rooms because of one bad week.


When conflicts do arise

Conflicts are inevitable, but most are easily solved by just talking it out.

“If you’re having problems with your roommate, I think the first thing you should do is talk to your roommate,” said Prataj Ingram, a graduate hall director (GHD) at Mercer University.

Tell him that he needs to keep his trash on his side of the room or that you really don’t like it when she borrows your clothes without asking.

“Usually people don’t really know how to have a conversation or they’re afraid of conflict, and so they don’t want to have the conversation, but that’s a part of college,” Ingram said. “We’re growing up. We’re maturing. We’re learning how to handle situations.”

Ingram said that her freshman roommate did not like her for the first two months because she left her television on while she was sleeping.

She said that once her roommate finally told her the problem, they were able to find a solution and become great roommates.

If you don’t talk to your roommate, you will sit there miserable while they go along thinking everything it perfectly fine. Talk to them!


What if it gets complicated

Now, you might be in a situation in which you do not feel comfortable talking to your roommate. You might have tried to talk to your roommate, and it didn’t go so well.

That is why you have a resident assistant (RA).

Your RA has been trained to deal with roommate conflicts. They are there to be a neutral person to listen to your complaints and make sure each side is heard.

“An RA can help to sit you both down, be the liaison between you both and not pick sides—not choose favorites—but just to be there to document and listen,” Ingram said.[sidebar title="The GHDs are as follows:" align="right" background="on" border="none" shadow="off"]

Austin Rayford - Plunkett, Sherwood and Roberts Halls

Bethany Reilly - Boone, Dowell, Porter and Shorter Halls

Prataj Ingram - Gardens and Adams/Winship Apartments, Greek Row and Orange Street Apartments

Joey Gemuenden - Legacy and Mercer Halls


If speaking with the RA doesn’t help, go to the GHD. They are the supervisors of the RA’s, and they are trained as well to help with roommate conflicts.


When all else fails

If you have gone through all of the steps and you still can’t stand your roommate, there is a period of time that the Office of Residence Life allows students to change rooms with no questions asked.

Ingram said this is usually the second or third week of school, and you need to email the Office of Residence Life to inform them you want a room change. Then,  the process will begin.

If you miss this time window, you will need to speak to a GHD for further instructions on how to change your room assignment.

Try to stay with your original roommate. If you can learn to live with a complete stranger and become friends, you can definitely succeed in the world, but even if you cannot, there is always an option for you to try again with someone else.

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