Thou Shall Not Harm Thy Roommate!

By Mark Baron
Staff Writer

Roommates! When I hear the word, a multitude of stories comes to mind. Unfortunately, many of these stories involve annoyance, disrespect, inconsideration, and fights. You may feel like you’re the only one with an annoying roommate, but there are actually tons of people who have the same problems. But don’t worry; I have some helpful tips to keep you from losing your roommate and your mind.

So, how do you prevent this everyday drama? If you want to prevent something that you think is going to be a problem, make your expectations clear before you move in. Try getting together with your roommate or talk to them over the phone. By doing this, you can get a feel for the kind of person they are. Also, if you like to have things a certain way, make that clear and be honest. Be sure to listen to what they want too. An even better way to set some ground rules is a roommate contract, an agreement on what is and is not aloud to go on in a roommate situation. Ashley Gerolstein, an RA at MU says, “Be as honest as you can on the roommate contract…it will be easier for you in the long run.”

Not everybody is able to be upfront and honest about what they want, and sometimes you don’t know until you move in. That’s perfectly fine, but eventually, you may hit a road block. For example, I have a friend, Jen, who moved in with her roommate whom she was good friends with. Every day, Jen found her roommate to be incredibly loud when she was trying to sleep in the morning. This brings me to my next tip: if you have a problem speak up! I advised Jen numerous times to tell her roommate how annoyed she was, but she wouldn’t say anything. Eventually, Jen found more and more problems and still said nothing until, one day, they both exploded into a large (almost physical) fight. Both had problems with each other, but neither were speaking up. When it comes to this, you have to ask yourself, would I rather be honest now or get into a fight later? Also, RA Ashley recommends that you “don’t always assume it’s the other roommate doing something wrong.” You may be contributing to the problem just as well.

Finally, I’d like to cover, what I consider, the three biggest things that can make you a better roommate. Be clean. Be considerate. Be respectful. Personally, I’ve experienced all three as a problem, but they can all be handled.

Be clean! You may feel comfortable living amongst piles of dirty laundry, unflushed toilets, and random junk scattered about the room, but most people don’t. If you have to clean the bathroom, clean it. Don’t put your ‘clean’ roommate in the position of your parents.

Be considerate! If your roommate looks angry, ask what’s up. They might be mad at you and afraid to talk to you. Here’s another example. If it’s 7:00 a.m., and you’re making a racket while you think your friends are still asleep, get ready the night before or tip toe. From my experience, people don’t even realize when they’re being inconsiderate, so don’t be afraid to say something.

Be respectful! This means respect for your roommate and all of their possessions. I told my ex-roommate not to let anyone touch my stuff when I wasn’t around. I got mad when I found out that someone else had used my computer. Respect, enough said.

If you made it this far, then you actually want to be a good roommate. Just follow the steps: honest communication, roommate contract, be clean, be considerate, and be respectful. A little effort goes a long way, and it could make you and your roommate even better friends. People tell me all the time how bad their roommates are. After reading this, you won’t have to be one of those people.