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Roommate rules make living together easier

Someone else’s dishes are in your sink. Their hair is in your shower drain. But that sink and that drain don’t just belong to you. Sound familiar? If you’ve lived with one or more roommates, it probably does.

It is often said that your roommate needn’t be your best friend. But, you should at least try to get along.

Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Issues will arise. What happens to those issues is up to you and those you’re living with. You can sweep them under the rug and hope they don’t return, have a heated argument that makes eating in the same room awkward for the next six months, or you can talk about the issues and find ways to keep the peace.

“Overreacting and getting upset can lead to problems, but not discussing them afterward can lead to bigger problems; be upfront and honest with your roommate about issues and needs,” University sophomore Carolyne [email protected]@[email protected]@ said.

University Marketing Manager Kelly [email protected]@[email protected]@ explained that in the residence halls, “freshmen are walked through a Roommate Agreement contract, which covers topics such as cleanliness, guests, quiet times and handling disagreements.”

If an official Roommate Agreement Contract isn’t provided in your living arrangement, making one and signing it could help eliminate future roommate conflicts.

University Director of Residence Life and Academic Initiative Lori [email protected]@[email protected]@ said, “On campus, the resident assistants are meant to be facilitators; they are trained and encouraged to have a dialogue with the complaining roommate about a possible solution. But really, it’s about empowering and encouraging the students to communicate.”

Miscommunication is often a source of conflict. Don’t forget to establish a mutual understanding regarding early/late hours, music volume and even shower length. Talk to your roommate about guests — how long they can stay, where they will sleep, etc. Remember that your roommate’s comfort is more important than your guests’.

A house whiteboard can be useful for leaving reminder messages, like who has dish duty. Just make sure the reminders are clearly friendly; written communication can be easily misinterpreted.

Two big issues tend to underlie conflict in student housing.

“I’ve been here three-and-a-half years,” said Caitlin [email protected]@[email protected]@, office manager at Duck’s Village apartments, “and cleanliness is a big one. We try to match neat people with others who are neat. Eating other people’s food is a big one, too.”

When it comes to sharing food, there should be two simple options: don’t at all, or do completely. Most college students are living on a tight budget; you might be surprised how much drama drinking someone else’s milk might cause.

Also keep in mind that people have different definitions of what is clean. Establish general expectations for what the shared places ought to look like. A cleaning schedule can be used for things that don’t need drastic daily cleaning (like the shower) and it can keep people accountable. Each roommate should be responsible for picking up their things from shared places. Pound out the details, like whether or not dirty dishes should be put into the sink or into the dishwasher.

Sharing dish sinks and shower drains doesn’t need to be a frightening scenario; by keeping communication open and establishing expectations early, you might find yourself starting a journey with a lifelong friend.

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