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Roommate Etiquette


Freshman year in college is full of firsts: your first college class, your first year seminars, your first time living away from home, and for many, your first time having a roommate or even sharing your living space with someone outside of your family. The road to perfect roommate living is not easy, and there is a way to do this without taking the name of an inconsiderate roommate.


Of course, living in a dorm with a complete stranger is one of the many experiences you’ll undergo in college— it is one of the many traditions required to partake in, after all. People rarely find themselves rooming with someone they know, which becomes incredibly awkward for people who are used to coming home to their own bedrooms. Having a roommate is a roller coaster of ups and downs, so here are some tips to hack roommate relationships.


Always Remember the Roommate Agreement:


At the beginning of each semester, Resident Assistants typically recommend filling out a roommate agreement form. However, this form is more like a 2-3 page packet covering every angle to live peacefully with your roommate. Questions range from how you feel about sharing snacks or inviting guests over to cleanliness and schedules. Though filling out the form with your roommate is pretty awkward and confrontational, it is quite beneficial for future conflicts that may arise between each of you. If your roommate is hounding you on a cohabitation issue a month into the semester, you can always whip out your handy roommate agreement. It is the form’s words against theirs, so I definitely advise you to work through the initial discomfort and complete the form very seriously. If your RA doesn’t hand one out, get in touch with them and request a form.


Communication is Key


A classic piece of advice given is ‘Communication is key’. It isn’t a well-known phrase for nothing, as it can be effectively utilized toward achieving a particular goal. In fact, this advice can be used in tandem with any of the tips on this list like communicating with your suitemates/roommates or talking to your roommate about your desired state of privacy. Communication is the best tool for maintaining any relationship, especially between roommates who were strangers not too long ago. Communication is especially vital when issues and disagreements occur between you and your roommate while living together. And when they do, it is common for tensions to arise between each of you. You should not leave those tensions hanging in the air for too long; come to a conclusion together that is ultimately beneficial to both of you. People taking the time to talk things through will keep everything in order and make for a peaceful cohabitation experience. 


A Roomie + 2: 


Here at Stetson, there are suite-style dorms available to students for selection, such as Chaudoin, Emily, Hatter, Nemec, and University Hall. For those of you living in those dormitory buildings, you don’t only have your roommate to consider during your stay–there’s also your suitemates to consider. In comparison to your roommate, suitemates are only connected to you through a shared bathroom, which causes your interactions to be more limited. Nevertheless, your paths will inevitably coincide. Because only one private bathroom is available for both bedrooms, it helps to be mindful of two main things: how much time you spend in there and overall cleanliness. Work out a schedule to keep the restroom tidy, maybe taking turns each week for who has to clean it, and make sure you also communicate about how much time each of you spends in the bathroom to ensure no one monopolizes the space. 


Dorm Privacy:


Most of us are used to having our own private living space where we don’t have to be considerate of the sensibilities of anyone. This changes when we get a roommate and start sharing a living space with them. For most students at Stetson, especially first years, this  living space is limited to a single bedroom or a suite style with a shared bedroom and bathroom. For the latter, locks in the bathroom help ensure privacy, but what about the bedroom? Well, while you might assume that there might be a sort of locker room situation, we’d advise there be some discussion beforehand about your roommate’s sensibilities to there being any changing of clothes in the bedroom. They could open the door right as you are changing clothes or might not hear you in the bathroom. An excellent way to deal with this issue is to hang up shower curtains/sheets and use them as cover to change behind.


Splitting Your Alone Time:


Regardless of whether or not someone is an introvert or extrovert, it is inevitable you will crave alone time, especially after an exasperating day when nothing sounds more pleasant than to head straight home and finally unwind. The only difference now is that you’ll have a roommate in the same boat. While your dorm is your home away from home and your safe space, in the case of having a roommate, it is helpful to balance your time in and out of the dorm. Though you most likely will not want to venture back to campus and socialize, there are plenty of places where you can be alone and decompress. The coffee shop offers a chill atmosphere with snacks and comfortable seating, along with halls like Cici & Hyatt Brown or Sage that offer a place to sit down and scroll. And, if it’s a nap you are looking for, the library basement or Carlton Union’s game room has couches, snazzy beanbags, and specifically in the CUB’s case, a hammock to doze off in. 


BFF’s…To be or not to be:


To anyone who has yet to attend college, it is widely believed that roommates are automatically equivalent to best mates. This, however, is not the case for everyone. Movies and books usually dramatize the relationship between roommates, and while it’s great to want to be close to your roommate like how they portray, sometimes expectations don’t always become reality– And that is perfectly fine. You do not have to be BFFs with your roommate. What matters is that you two get along and base your relationship on respect and understanding. Of course, there is always potential to become close with your roommate. But sometimes, having a presence in the room when you first move in is enough to feel less alone in a new environment. After that, you will start getting used to the new setting and start making friends of your own. 


Didn’t work out? Lo and behold, the Room change request:


From time to time, the roller coaster of a ride with your new roommate may have more downs than ups. There are times when it becomes clear that a roommate situation cannot be salvaged, which is completely fine. After all, Stetson is your home away from home, and you shouldn’t force yourself to live with a roommate  you can’t properly cohabitate with– especially if it’s in a room that’s too small to do a cartwheel in. If you feel the need to change rooms, Residential Living and Learning’s room change requests come in clutch. Typically, these forms are released on Housing Central twice a year: once in the fall and once in the spring.


Regardless of the circumstances, etiquette in itself is a tricky thing to get the hang of. Sometimes we forget and make mistakes, which will happen no matter how many lessons or tips we read. The advice on these pages are meant to help guide you through your relationship with your roommate, and now, it’s up to you to take the first steps into applying it in real life. Remember, your roommate is also in the same boat in the start–  luckily, you have each other to guarantee it won’t tip.

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Alis Cadena, Executive Editor

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