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Can You Trust Your Roommate?

An essential part of living away at college is having to live with a roommate. In many cases, one can wind up being great friends with that person. On the other hand it could be a complete disaster. The moneymaker of this situation is built on trust. If you trust your roommate and get along with them then you will not have a hard time at all, but if you don’t it could make the situation a little hectic.

An extreme example of this was seen in the case of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi. Clementi lived with Dharun Ravi and it appeared that Clementi trusted him. Clementi was a homosexual student who kept his sexuality private from everyone else. Little did he know, Ravi was well aware of this and thought it would be smart to turn the webcam on his computer on to broadcast his roommate over the Internet when Clementi had someone over. When Clementi became aware of this he decided to take his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. This raises the question of do you trust your roommate?

Currently, most of The Outlook staff trust their roommates, but in a way we are a poor sample. Most of us are juniors and seniors who are currently rooming with some of our best friends, which is the case with most upperclassmen. However, many problems can occur during the first and second years of college. A part of this is because when you first come to college everything is new and most people aren’t used to sharing a room or a bathroom with several other people. Before people get used to this, it is very easy for conflicts to arise between roommates and suitemates.

To avoid situations like this, the University has a roommate contract called a Shared Living Agreement that all first year students complete with Residential Life as a proactive measure. According to Eric Mochnacz Area Coordinator for Residential Life, this agreement is always the first step in Residential Life’s response to a roommate conflict, because they feel a large number of roommate conflicts stem from a lack of communication between the students in the living space. By moderating the conversation, they may be able to help the roommate’s address and outline issues they were uncomfortable talking about.

This may work with some students, but we feel that there needs to be something better put forth by Residential Life.

If there’s a problem like keeping the lights on while the other roommate tries to sleep or having people over too late at night then the contractual agreement could make a policy that resolves the issue. However, it seems a little bit unnecessary that a contract is needed to solve situations like this.

One Outlook editor lives in a suite styled dorm and has seen one of her suitemates have conflicts with her roommate. The roommate has sat down with her and the head RA several times. They have gone over the roommate contract a bunch of times but that doesn’t do anything because the minute the RA is gone, everything is back to being a problem.

Several of us feel that the main problem with these contracts is that neither party pays attention to them. When two roommates are fighting, it is very unlikely that one would say something like, “You’re breaking our contract right now by doing what you’re doing.” It is more important to have mutual respect for one another instead of saying you’ll do something on a piece of paper.

Problems between roommates can be solved by simply being honest with each other and talking things out. If something your roommate is doing bothers you then talk to them about it. Don’t go above their head to the RA without talking to them first. If they still continue to be a problem then maybe go to your RA, but sometimes issues can be resolved by opening your mouth to your roommates. You shouldn’t have to have a contract filled out to solve an issue. You are in college, not high school anymore.

Basically, the contract works if both parties make it work, but if both aren’t on board then the contract will fail. Good roommate relationships are built on respect and trust. If you don’t have this, odds are you are not going to be in a comfortable living environment.