Messy roommates can mess up your life

By Stephanie Youssef

I currently live in a four-person apartment with one student and two slobs. Two of my roommates are the kind of people who litter the apartment’s floors with piles of their discarded clothing, keep boxes of books and papers lying around collecting dust, leave plates covered in crusted, old food fermenting in the sink and procrastinate doing their dishes until fruit flies swarm to remind them.

They use the last of the toilet paper in the bathroom and fail to replace it. They leave the apartment door unlocked and unattended. They take up all of the cabinets in the kitchen with their food so there is no room left for my plates. Every time I try and remind them of basic human decency and that I am, in fact, paying for a fourth of the apartment, my attempts at fixing the place to livable human conditions are met with resistant glares and annoyed scoffs.

In describing my apartment dynamic to my friends, I was surprised to find out that almost everyone I spoke to had experienced a roommate conflict at some point as an undergraduate. In fact, problems with roommates is ranked among the top-five reasons students drop out of college.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/colleges-roommates-gpa-drop-out_n_1752853.html (fm)

Given the ubiquitous and toxic nature of bad living arrangements, all students experiencing roommate conflicts should prioritize resolving disagreements quickly and efficiently.

Whether concerning cleanliness, differing sleep habits, noise or invasions of privacy, conflicts can arise easily at any point when multiple people are living in close quarters. Additionally, living arrangements that start out well initially can deteriorate as the year goes on.

Lauren Schultz, senior in LAS and Resident Advisor at Bromley, said she believes roommate conflicts are inevitable, particularly when it comes to school work.?“Times get hard with studying for tests and trying to meet deadlines on big assignments, so that can translate into negative emotions.” It is important that these negative emotions are addressed earlier rather than later. Letting disagreements drag on can let minor quarrels stew into more severe conflicts that are detrimental to one’s well-being.

In reality, the relationships you have with your roommates can affect aspects of your life even outside of your home.

According to a study conducted by economics professor Bruce Sacredote at Dartmouth University, roommate relationships can affect your grade point average, as well as your participation in extracurricular activities. http://www.uh.edu/~adkugler/Sacerdote.pdf (fm)

Additionally, other studies have found a strong correlation between roommate problems and general stress in students. Thus, it is important to realize that letting a conflict linger can take a toll on your grades, your health and your overall college experience.

Suleiman Ayoub, senior in LAS and RA at Florida Avenue Residence Hall said, “Roommate conflicts can arise for many different reasons. Lifestyle differences is usually a factor, but more importantly, a lack of communication in the beginning of the year, as well as throughout the year, has a significant influence on whether or not there are conflicts.”

Schultz, who has cited many experiences dealing with roommate disagreements as an RA, shared similar advice with regards to resolving these issues, “In general, roommate conflicts come down to communication. If you do not communicate what you like, what you don’t like, what annoys you and what pushes your buttons under times of stress, you are going to have problems.”

Starting a dialogue with your roommate and listening to their concerns gives each of you the opportunity to speak and learn. After verbalizing concerns, you can each start compromising to create better living arrangements.

With regards to my current apartment setup, issues with cleanliness and general respect have gone on for too long without being resolved. To those currently in a conflict, learn from my predicament and the consequences that can come from tensions between roommates: Prioritize resolving your issues and communicating your concerns before the situation becomes more severe.

Because the obstacle course of garbage I have to maneuver through to reach my room is getting out of hand. fm

Stephanie is a senior in LAS.

[email protected]