Roommate conflict

I am a senior at Rice University majoring in Psychology and English. I am also a writer who has been writing from her heart for almost a decade and a half; I’ve authored poems, short stories, novellas, YA novels, and nonfiction personal essays, some of which have appeared in print, but I write for myself, out of an inner need to create with words. I am a fearless romantic who endeavors always to be open to love, to be optimistic in life, and to learn the most from every situation, acquaintance, and adventure.


Roommate clashes. They’re not uncommon the first year of college, especially when the two or three or four girls or guys grouped together are complete strangers to each other and are still trying to learn the ropes in a brand new place. The principles that apply to roommate conflicts are similar to those that apply in any context involving conflict, but are especially important because chances are you’re going to be living with these people for a while; they may even become some of your best friends, so the first thing to remember in the case of conflict with one or more roommates is:


1)     Don’t burn your bridges. First year of college is challenging enough without having problems when you get home, too. A freshman dorm room is kind of like a family: often you didn’t pick them, the fact that you have stuff in common doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get along, and they can be some of your most convenient resources, not to mention some of your best friends. The worst thing is having a pissed-off roommate who doesn’t want to talk to you, much less help you, for the rest of the year. So…

2)     Consider both sides. In any disagreement, each person gets a story. Not just you. You may not agree with the other person or people involved, but they’re not just there to antagonize you – they have a point of view they believe in just as much as you do. It can be useful to make a real effort to understand what that point of view is, even if they don’t do the same for you. And in any case, having the wisdom to consider both sides of the dispute will serve you well beyond the dorm room as well.

3)     If an agreement can’t be reached, seek civility. Again, chances are you’re going to be living with this person or these people for a while – at least two semesters. It would suck to come home to a hostile body every evening when you’re probably tired and stuck with a load of homework big enough to take all night or longer. If the two or three or four of you can learn to live together functionally in some capacity, you will have a much easier year.


There are many things you learn or get better at in college, and one of the big ones is how to live with other people. Taking the opportunity to practice that skill yields really great results both in college and beyond.

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