Learn roommate etiquette: Treat your roommate well


Kenyon Edmond

A dorm room located in Carr Hall of Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls.

By Lucas Oswald, Opinions Editor

One of the greatest causes of anxiety for the incoming freshman is the dreaded roommate. Either the biggest blessing or the biggest curse of a student’s college premier, the person with whom you’ll share your ten-foot-by-ten-foot box certainly merits some consideration.

Will they borrow your favorite shoes before making the trek to KAM’s on a rainy night, returning them soaking wet and covered in stains that smell like stale booze and vomit? Will they talk loudly on the phone into the wee hours of the morning? Will they have less than romantic encounters in your room without so much as sticking a sock on the doorknob? Will they steal your things? Will they smell? Will you hate them?

Or, will they instead borrow your shoes and return them cleaner than they were originally? Will they instead talk to you until orange rays peek over the horizon? Will they instead give ample warning in advance of their d’alliances? Will they instead help you find the phone you’re sure you left in one of the five lecture halls you were in that day? Will they instead help you keep the room clean? Will you love them?

As the fateful day of your meeting approaches, you’re all most likely wondering which category your own roommate will fit into. But remember: They’re wondering the same thing.

The canvas is empty between the two (or more) of you, open for any and every stroke you guys make. You can paint a dark, terrible experience or a light, happy one. Thus, make all your strokes good ones: ones that’ll light up your canvas and create the best possible relationship.

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    Every stroke is important, but the beginning ones are even more so. There’s nothing like a first impression. As such, make sure to cultivate a positive relationship from the outset, and the first step in doing so is reaching out. Upon receiving your roommate information from the MyHousing portal, send a quick text introducing yourself. If you’re lacking ideas of how to spark a conversation, ask them about school. What are they looking forward to most? What are they dreading? Just try to get to know each other.

    The basic truth at the core of roommate etiquette is similar to the elementary school motto: Treat your roommate how you would want to be treated.

    This means never to turn on the main light in the room if your roommate is sleeping — no matter what time it is. In that same vein, avoid overly noisy activities while they’re sleeping. Do nothing you think would wake the average person.

    If your roommate is studying, be respectful and keep as quiet as possible. When your roommate walks in, say hi every time, even if you’re in the middle of something. Take out the trash whenever you notice it’s full, no matter who took it out last. If you make a mess, clean it up. If they walk in and you’re playing music or watching television, put in headphones. They don’t want to hear you re-watch “The Office” for the sixth time.

    Keep them in the loop as to your whereabouts. If you’re going to the library, let them know and/or ask them if they want to come with. To be clear, I am not suggesting you have to tell them where you are at all times. They aren’t your guardian, and you don’t answer to them. But it’s nice to know where the people you live with are, if for no other reason than to know they aren’t lying dead in the trunk of somebody’s Ford Focus.

    Communicate. Like any friendship, you must communicate. Ask them how their day was. Tell them how yours was. If they look stressed or despondent, ask them what’s wrong.  

    To sum up, treat them like a human being. I promise you, no matter how inhumanly loud their gulps of water are, they are not aliens sent to dismember you in your sleep. In fact, they’re probably a person just like you and worth talking to.

    With a little luck and by following these simple guidelines, you can have the positive roommate experience so many of us missed out on. These tips were painfully learned through the trial and error of those who came before you. Keep them in mind and make every stroke count. You won’t regret it.

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