Living in a residence hall can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your college career.
Your relationships with roommates, suitemates, and floormates will make your residence hall feel like home. It can be intimidating, nerve-wracking, and exciting to live with people you have never met (or even people you have met!), and Housing and Residence Life is here to help. Our residence hall staff provide opportunities for you to connect with your fellow residents, are trained in conflict mediation, and will support you as you adjust to your new space. Review some of our tips below, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help!
Once you receive your housing assignment, reach out to your roommate(s) to introduce yourself and communicate about your expectations and hopes for the room. Before you make the call, reflect on your own needs and expectations so you can express them accurately and openly. It can be both challenging and fun to live with someone else, and the better you are able to communicate, the better your relationship will be. Keep in mind that it may be difficult to get to know someone over the phone, on social media, or through email, so avoid making quick judgments about your new roommate(s) before meeting them in person.
Before you arrive on Move-In Day, we encourage you to coordinate with your roommate about what each of you will bring for the room. Make sure to discuss color schemes, electronics, gaming systems, dishes, and any other items that may be shared. We recommend that students wait to buy rugs or other large items until they move into their room and can plan their space.
All students living in a shared space on campus are required to complete a roommate agreement in the beginning of the fall semester and after any room changes. You will complete it with your roommate(s)/suitemate(s) and review it with your RA. It can be updated and revised at any time and is a great tool for you and your roommate(s) to communicate your expectations and hold each other accountable.
Conflict is a healthy part of any relationship, and will most likely come up in your living space. Whether disagreements stem from a chronically dirty sink, an alarm snoozed a dozen times, or opposite sleeping schedules, working through conflict respectfully and effectively can improve your relationship and make you feel more comfortable in your space. Here are some tips for dealing with roommate conflicts:
Communicate often, honestly, and openly – Conflict can feel uncomfortable, and it often feels easier to ignore an issue or let something slide than to talk to someone about it. Talking through the little things, though, will make talking about the big things that much easier. If your roommate does something that gets on your nerves, talk to them about it! Chances are, they will be much more open to talking about it than you think.
Don’t let little things build up – It is worth the awkwardness to talk about them when they first appear. And if your roommate brings something up to you, listen! Set a positive precedent from the start, and your time together will be much easier.
Respect Boundaries & Be Courteous – Always ask before borrowing things, make sure you are on the same page about guests (especially last-minute guests!), and stay away from your roommate’s snacks, unless they are offered. Be mindful of your cleanliness, noise, and other actions. Everyone wants to feel like their room is a reprieve from the stress of school, so try your best to respect your roommate’s space and belongings.
Revisit your Roommate Agreement – Speaking of awkward, filling out a Roommate Agreement may be uncomfortable. You will have lived together for only a few weeks, and over time your habits, schedules, and relationships may have changed. Be as honest as you can in your original Roommate Agreement, and don’t be afraid to revisit it and update it! This document is a great way to make sure you are on the same page. Minimize the gray areas by being clear, and not beating around the bush. Everyone is responsible for following the expectations laid out in the Roommate Agreement, so make sure you are holding up your end of the deal.
Organize your Thoughts – It can be difficult to articulate your expectations or needs, especially when a conversation may be tense. Taking some time to write down your thoughts and organize them is a great way to parse out what is important to you and can help you prepare for a tough conversation. If you feel nervous about being assertive, it’s okay! People’s reactions are usually much better than we imagine them to be, and if you approach a conversation from a caring and respectful place, it will almost certainly go better than expected.
Compromise – None of us are perfect people, and we aren’t perfect roommates either. Even if you are certain that no fault lies with you, be willing to compromise at least a little bit for the sake of your living situation. Try to be open-minded and see the conflict from your roommate’s point of view. Giving a little bit to get a little bit is worth it in the long run.
Watch your Words – In the heat of the moment, it can be easy to get carried away. Make sure to take some time to calm down, if needed, and try to approach a situation when you are able to have a level-headed conversation. Stick to “I feel” statements and emphasize how their actions have impacted you. Do not villainize your roommate, or spread gossip on your floor or among friends – especially when you haven’t mentioned anything to your roommate at all! If you need to vent to someone, reach out to your RA. They will listen to what you have to say and help you figure out next steps.
Talk to your RA – Need to vent? Want advice? Not sure what to do at all? Talk to your RA! They are students just like you, and most likely have had their own personal roommate conflicts in the past. They can help you sort out what is going on and talk through potential solutions. A third-party perspective can be really valuable in working through problems, so don’t hesitate to reach out!
Are you concerned about the physical or mental health of your roommate or a friend? Have you noticed concerning behavior? Please do one of the following:
- Talk to your RA. Your RA is an expert on campus resources and is trained to respond to crisis situations. They can help you figure out what to do next and how to best support your roommate or friend.
- Fill out a Concerns Report. Tulane staff members receive these reports in real time and make decisions on appropriate next steps.
- Talk to your RD. Your Resident Director is a great resource if you are concerned about your roommate or a friend. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them, knock on their office door, or set up a time to meet with them to discuss what is going on. You can find the contact information of your RD here.
- Talk to another staff or faculty member. Are you close with one of your professors? Feel most comfortable with a staff member from another department? They can help, too. Our staff and faculty work together to support all students, so reach out to any staff or faculty member if you need support.