The 3 W’s of ‘Good Roommate’

Sometimes, it’s harder to recognize the difference between friend and roommate than it is mother and mob wife (too much VH1 for me).

The line becomes blurry and as time passes it’s difficult to see a separation from one to the other. Yet, in spite of this increasingly fuzzy line, it is important to throw on some glasses and notice that there is in fact a distinction. Friend and roommate are not quite equal nor are Mama Renee and Mafia Princess.

So what constitutes a good roommate? Sure, heart-to-heart chats are nice and sharing a batch of cookies made at midnight is kind, but that still tends to fall under BFF status. Good roommates may not do those things, but they will abide by the 3 W’s. What are the 3 W’s you ask? Okay, you got me, I’ll tell.

The 3 W’s represent the pillars of expected roommate etiquette. They are guidelines to avoid arguments and uphold unity among those living together. Though on the surface they may only appear to share a common consonant, in reality they are bound by something so much stronger than convenient alliteration. The 3 W’s are as follows:

1.) Warn

2.) Wash

3.) Will

The 3 W’s are one-word reminders to keep in your pocket when solving problems among roommates (or if the urge to brandish a tongue twister game at a bar overcomes you). While they may be simple, they are paramount to good roommate behavior. Still not sure why you should keep these guys in the back of your head? Let me explain:


When company is calling — be it a long-distance boyfriend or a boy from Brothers — a warning text will do wonders for the roommate relationship. Waking up to Frat Boy Joe from the bar in your kitchen eating your Cinnamon Toast Crunch is not the first thing you want to see in the morning without a heads-up. This goes for roommates in the dorms as well, perhaps even more so. Living through my own horror story of this variety, I can attest that sleeping three feet from another person only to wake up and realize that person is not the girl you share a room with, but a naked boy you share nothing in common with apart from association with said girl, is a bit jarring.


Nobody likes a mess, especially one they didn’t make. Here, a bit of bleach can go a long way to ease the tension between roommates. A fight caused by a pile of dirty dishes stacked sky-high is completely avoidable. Same goes for that shirt you borrowed — if you wore it out, return it clean. While this may seem like common sense, it doesn’t change the fact that a lot of college kids are incredibly negligent when it comes to reason. So if you do bake cookies at midnight (whether you share or not is irrelevant) be sure to wash the pans before you pass out for bed.


Last but not least we have will, as in “to be willing” rather than strong-willed. Willing to do something — take out the trash, pick up the mail, buy the next gallon of milk — implies you are a considerate individual who knows how to compromise. And as all college sociology classes will inform you: compromise is crucial to civility (not entirely sure if this is true, I’ve only taken SOC 100 freshman year, but it sounds like something those social science people would say). Regardless, taking the reins on getting your refrigerator door repaired or showing up to a floor meeting is only going to make your bond as roommates that much harder to break up when the landlord or RA comes calling.

Easy to remember, and even easier to employ — now that’s my kind of etiquette.

_Emily Harnden is a junior in LAS._