Dealing with Problem University Roommates

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How to Deal with a Problem Roommate at University

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When you move into your dorm at university, you usually have to split the living area with at least one roommate. Unfortunately, sometimes you and your roommates won't get along and they can become a problem. How can you deal with problem roommates while living in a university dorm?

Avoid bad roommates

The best way to deal with problem roommates is to avoid them altogether. Universities will rarely allow students to rent solo housing, so having a roommate is required for most residents of the school. Luckily, most schools have you fill out a roommate questionnaire to determine who will be a good match for you. Fill them out honestly in to improve your chances of getting a roommate who causes no problems.

When you are paired with a roommate, make sure to ask some follow-up questions and express concerns before you meet. To avoid conflicts, define how you want to live and what to expect with you.
  • Explain sleeping preferences
  • Stipulate the temperature range you prefer
  • Mention any food allergies or other medical conditions
  • List some in-room activities you might do in your free time
  • Honestly describe your cleanliness level and your expectations for your roommate's cleanliness

Roommate, we have a problem

Of course, no amount of preparation can save you from problem roommates 100 percent of the time. Some people misrepresent themselves or outright lie on their questionnaires. Not every aspect of a roommate's personality is predictable. Maybe someone who appeared great at first morphed into a nightmare as the semester progressed. If you have a problem roommate, determine how serious the problem is, if it can be rectified, and how to get out of the room if it can't.
  • How serious is the roommate problem? Is your roommate's behaviour negatively affecting your health or schoolwork? Nitpicking annoying habits is more your problem than your roommate's. Unless the problem is big enough to be worth addressing, live and let live. Living with someone is not always easy, but you can hone your skill at picking your battles in this early instance.
  • Attempt to "fix" your problem roommate. Be open yet gentle and address the issues you have with your roommate's behaviour. Explain that your grades can suffer when he parties all night while you have to sleep. Tell her that you don't feel comfortable with drugs in the room. Remind him that you don't appreciate having your things stolen. Some roommates are always going to be problems, but it doesn't hurt to try to talk it out civilly before you involve a third party.
  • Contact your Room Advisor (RA) for a formal mediation. RAs will schedule a meeting for you and your roommate to formally address the issues between you. You should give a last chance warning to problem roommates before involving any third party to see if the threat alone is enough to eliminate the problems. If they don't care and your roommate is truly the problem, this third party perspective should be helpful to you.
  • If you have a roommate contract, it can be referenced in mediation. If your roommate is in clear violation of the rules of the contract, then he or she will be asked to change their ways or face negative consequences.
  • Request a room transfer. The school may only allow you to transfer rooms after repeated failed mediation since the process is costly and time consuming. Sometimes the best thing to do with a problem roommate is to just move away. You have to be the one willing to change rooms if you request a transfer, even if that seems unfair.


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on December 2, 2014

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