Santa Clara University

Housing Office

Roommate Relationships

Doing Your Part in the Residence Hall Community

Living on campus helps most students meet their main goals for being here: studying and learning. Residence halls are close to classes, faculty, and libraries and provide a place for students to study, sleep, and socialize.

So how does a student like yourself go about helping to make sure the building you live in remains a place for study and rest, while at the same time serving as a place you play your music and entertain your friends?

students in residence hall
Students living on campus find it useful to set up a few basic rules everyone agrees to live by. Setting these rules is known as negotiating floor agreements. Each community comes together to discuss the type of living/learning environment they wish to establish on their floor. The process works best when people listen to each other’s concerns and are willing to contribute to the process. Simple majority rule is not the name of the game—reaching a group consensus is.

Some examples of concerns other floors have incorporated in their floor agreements include

  • Use of lounge areas—study vs. social
  • Hallway and bathroom cleanliness
  • Safety issues—neighborhood watch
  • Extended study/quiet hours
  • Floor activities
  • How to confront a fellow floor member who is violating the floor agreement
Roommate Relationships

For roommates to get along well, it is very 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 help you and your roommate explore each other’s habits, preferences, values, and emotional styles. Please arrange yourselves in a comfortable face-to-face position so that you make eye contact. Take turns answering the following questions and take the time to answer the questions seriously and honestly with responses that reflect who you are—not who you 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 don’t use them?

Sharing Things: How do you feel about borrowing or lending clothes, personal items, or money? Will we get a phone? 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’re upset, happy, or depressed?

Roommate Agreement

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 to negotiate what is going to happen in your room and to make a written agreement. The written agreement should be clear and acceptable to both of you. You and your roommate should encourage each other to make a commitment to the agreement, and you should provide a basis to renegotiate the agreement. Here are some important issues to include in your agreement:

  • Decide on your study and sleep schedules.
  • Determine when you may or may not have guests in the room and how long the guests may stay.
  • Make definite rules as to what may or may not be borrowed.
  • Make definite commitments on cleaning responsibilities.
  • Set up rules for using the telephone and taking messages.
  • Determine how you will arrange the room and where things will be stored.
Dealing With Roommate Conflicts

Conflicts are bound to occur, even in the best room-mate relationships. Don’t 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:

  1. Define the problem. Take turns stating what is bothering you, how you feel about the problem, and what you want.
  2. Generate possible solutions. Once you agree on what the conflict is, take turns describing possible solutions.
  3. Evaluate the solutions. Honestly evaluate each solution. Can the solution work? Is it fair to both of you?
  4. Decide on a mutually acceptable solution(s). Come to an agreement on one or more of the solutions and commit to carrying them out. Can the solution work? Is it fair to both of you?
  5. Implement the solution. Develop a plan of action to achieve the desired solution and set a time frame in which to implement it.
  6. Evaluate the solution. Determine whether everyone is satisfied with the solution. If there are still problems, try to make the necessary changes.

Remember that both roommates must be willing to compromise in order to find a viable solution. If a compromise seems impossible, don’t give up. An objective third party may be needed for resolution. Your resident assistant or resident director 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.

Roommate Rights and Responsibilities

Your enjoyment of living on campus will largely depend on the relationship you have with your roommate. 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:

  1. Read and study without undue interference in one’s own room.
  2. Sleep and study without undue disturbance from noise, guests, or neighbors.
  3. Have one’s personal belongings respected. Lending or borrowing of items such as clothes, CDs, or tapes should be by mutual agreement.
  4. Expect a clean and pleasant living environ- ment. Standards for cleanliness are to be agreed upon and maintained by both roommates.
  5. Expect a reasonable amount of privacy, agreed upon by both roommates.
  6. Have free access to one’s room without pressure from a roommate.
  7. Have guests. Guests are to respect the rights of the roommate and other hall residents and to abide by Housing and Residence Life policies. Both roommates are responsible for seeing that policies and guidelines are upheld in their room.
  8. Ask assistance from residence hall staff in settling conflicts when the situation cannot be resolved by the roommates themselves.
  9. Be safe from physical and/or emotional harm.
  10. Expect reasonable cooperation in the use of shared appliances (such as telephone, refrigerator) and a commitment to honor agreed-upon payment procedures.


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