Keep an open mind with your roommate

Allyson Eighmey

Communication can solve most situations

Roommate horror stories can be heard all through campus. There’s the roommate who never showers and leaves trash lying around for weeks. There’s the party animal that stumbles into bed just as you’re getting up for class. Conflicts with roommates can arise for all sorts of reasons, turning

freshman year into one you’d like to forget.

Lindsey Jones, senior fashion merchandising major, can speak from experience. As a freshman, Jones moved from Texas to attend Kent State. She met her roommate on move-in day after exchanging a few short e-mails. Immediately, Jones could tell her roommate was completely opposite from her. After several conflicts about noise and personal space, Jones requested a room change and ended up in a single room in a dorm across campus.

Although she was much happier after the move, Jones said she regrets not communicating better with her roommate beforehand. The situation became more awkward than it needed to be, she added.

“I would try to make the best of it,” Jones said, regarding students becoming acquainted with new roommates. “But if it’s just really not working out, move into a dorm where you’ve made friends already.”

In Jones’ case, her fears about a roommate came true. But on the other hand, a roommate can become a life-long best friend and someone you can’t imagine living without. Luckily, a lot is being done on campus to help roommates get along and prevent conflicts.

During the Weekend of Welcome and a few weeks following, Residence Services holds events for roommates to get to know each other. The resident assistant staff also engages in a two-week training process that focuses on helping them develop mediation skills and prepares them to handle roommate conflicts.

To prevent conflict before it arises, students are asked to sign a roommate agreement at the first floor meeting of the semester. Before signing, students should carefully discuss issues that might cause conflict, like bedtimes and study habits.

“Residents are encouraged to use the roommate agreement process to open up the lines of roommate communication and address potential areas of conflict before any actual conflict arises, ” said Daniel Shonk, assignment and marketing coordinator for Residence Services.

Students are also encouraged to keep an open mind before they decide to move out. Shonk said he recommends roommates to speak with each other about a problem, and then contact a resident assistant or resident hall director if needed.

Although it might seem like a “no-win” situation at first, there can be a lot to gain from working through problems with a tough roommate, Shonk said. Students can learn about themselves, others and their own interpersonal skills with a new roommate situation, he added.

“While it may create a somewhat uncomfortable situation at first, the majority of the residents that I have worked with . who stuck with the process fared better than those who attempted a room change,” Shonk said.

If conflict does arise with no resolution in sight, students can submit a room change request after the room-freeze period.

The room change process has a few steps:

• Wait until the room-freeze period is over. Room changes begin the third week of the semester and can be submitted until two weeks prior to the semester’s end.

• Submit a room change request to Residence Services. All room changes must receive prior approval by Residence Services staff.

• Contact the Residence Services accounting office to determine any changes in cost. Students can request a room buyout if they would prefer to live alone, but it may cost more.

The room change policy can be found online at

Contact news correspondent Allyson Eighmey at [email protected].