Communication a must for successful roommates



By Eric Anderson

Roommates. Whether friend or foe, you are tossed together as joint-owners of limited breathing air and elbow-room. Why do some become best friends and others, in the case of one freshman resident, the target of a hurled garbage can?

Communication is key for effective roommate relations, said Kaamilyah Abdullah-Span, assistant dean of students, who deals with resident disputes that go beyond the resident advisors and resident directors.

“Usually it’s gotten to a point where they’re at each others’ throats,” Abdullah-Span said of the cases she deals with. “But to Housing’s credit, if it gets to that point, usually they’ll separate the roommates and move them into different rooms.”

Poor communication between the freshman resident and his roommate escalated into greater troubles.

“I probably said, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ That’s the most I’ve ever said to him,” the resident said. “I just went to the room to change and to sleep. That’s it.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Although the resident and his roommate attempted to find common interest in Japanese Anime cartoons, their personalities left little in common. The growing grudges were released when the roommate hurled a full garbage can at the resident and his friends.

“It wasn’t even his garbage,” the resident said. “It was the room’s garbage.”

By the first week of October, the roommate had left.

Down the hall but a world apart, freshman Sam Lyons and Myles Castro, who went from random roommates to fraternity brothers, are an example of roommates that fit.

Despite a failed first attempt to introduce himself the summer before classes when Lyons accidentally called Castro’s ex-girlfriend instead of Castro, the two cite good communication, openness and like-mindedness as reasons for their good relationship.

“At that point I was thinking, ‘who is this guy? Is he playing some kind of prank?'” Lyons said.

“We’re pretty easy going,” Castro said. “Yeah, we do stupid things sometimes, but we forgive each other.”

Stephanie Gulas, resident advisor at Weston Residence Hall, makes her residents fill out roommate contracts.

“If there are problems going on in the room we can refer back to (the contract),” Gulas said. “The last thing you want is living in your room, having a roommate conflict, then feeling like you’re stuck because your roommate doesn’t understand you.”

Abdullah-Span added that both parties have to be willing to strive for a better relationship.

“Both parties have to be willing to sit down at the table and say, ‘this is something I want to work out,'” she said. “We go in with certain perceptions of a type of person that then hinders our ability to develop a relationship and to communicate.”

Last year, University Residence Halls Housing Information Office said that around 250 people had moved from their rooms. They estimated around the same number this year.