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Roommates may not always be the best of friends, but that does not mean they cannot have a healthy living environment. For roommates to get along well, it is important that they get to know one another as people. Roommates need to openly discuss certain things in the very beginning to avoid misunderstandings in the future. Communication is the key to successful roommate relationships.
The following questions are designed to roommates explore each other’s habits, preferences, values, and emotional styles.
Roommates should arrange themselves in a comfortable face-to-face position to make eye contact. They should take turns answering the following questions and take the time to answer the questions seriously and honestly with responses that reflect who they are—not who they want to be.
Background: Do you like to be addressed by your given name or nickname? When is your birthday? Describe your hometown and your high school. Why did you decide to come to Santa Clara?
Study Habits: When and where do you like to study? Do you study with or without music playing? How often and for how long do you like to study?
Sleeping: When do you like to go to sleep and get up? Do you take naps? Can you sleep with lights on or music playing?
Visitors: When do you want/not want to have visitors? How much privacy do you like? How will we deal with visitor problems?
Tobacco, Drugs, and Alcohol: Do you smoke? Does it bother you when others smoke? What are your views on alcohol and drugs? How would you feel if I used these items? If I do not use them?
Sharing Things: How do you feel about borrowing or lending clothes, personal items, or money? Will we rent a refrigerator?
Housekeeping: How important is a clean room? How often should we clean? Who should do what jobs?
Personal: What type of music do you like?
Do you have any habits I should know about? What do you like to do in your spare time? Do you express your feelings outwardly or do you keep them to yourself? What values are important to you? How will I know if you are upset, happy, or depressed?
Enjoyment of living on campus largely depends on the relationship between roommates. Consideration is key to a positive experience. Roommates have 10 basic rights. Roommates also have the responsibility to ensure that their roommate’s rights are respected. These rights include the freedom to:
After completing the relationship exercise, it should be a lot easier to identify areas where there are differences and to work out mutually agreeable solutions to them. A good way to do this is for roommates to negotiate what is going to happen in the room and to make a written agreement. The written agreement should be clear and acceptable to both roommates. Roommates should encourage each other to make a commitment to the agreement, and provide a basis to renegotiate the agreement. Here are some important issues to include in the agreement:
Conflicts are bound to occur, even in the best roommate relationships. Do not be afraid of conflict. Resolving conflicts can lead to a better relationship and a more harmonious environment. If problems between you and your roommate do arise, you may find it helpful to follow the steps below:
Remember that both roommates must be willing to compromise in order to find a viable solution. If a compromise seems impossible, do not give up. An objective third party may be needed for resolution. Your Community Facilitator is available to help. Please feel free to call on them. Contacting the staff early when a conflict arises can often prevent the situation from exploding.