How to deal with roommate issues



Living with a boyfriend? It can get messy.

Whether students live in a residence hall or an apartment, roommate conflicts are bound to happen and every student deals with these problems in a different way.

Roommate issues include fairly small concerns, such as borrowing without asking, having guests over too often or sleeping on different schedules.

“It’s usually a difference in perspective, whether it’s a different personality type, differences about what’s important to the person, or differences in how we communicate that cause roommate conflict,” said Robby Cooper, human development clinical assistant professor.

Roommate counseling situations don’t occur often, said Jeff Nepute, outreach coordinator at Counseling and Testing Services. However, the option is always available, he said. Most of the cases he sees are skills-based as opposed to psychologically-based. Appointments are usually issued on a one-time basis with a counselor, but students can find resources through their residence hall as well.

The Office of the Dean of Students is a resource any student can utilize. However, like Testing Services, the office’s involvement in roommate issues is usually minimal, said Mark Crabtree, graduate assistant for the Office.

Crabtree suggested students who live in residence halls contact their Resident Assistants (RAs) and Residential Education Directors (REDs). He also said looking at the student’s roommate agreement is a great start.

“Any time you’re dealing with any kind of conflict between two people that are living in close proximity, one of the things you want to do is do things in writing,” Crabtree said. “I think that can be really helpful because it takes a lot of ambiguity and ‘he said/she said or he said/he said’ out of conversation.”

The roommate agreement students fill out get the students thinking and the conversation started, said Griffin Uchida, residence education director of Stimson Hall.

Many questions people living together might consider to put in an agreement include noise, guests and sleeping habits. Returning to the roommate agreement and having a third party mediate the conversation can help with roommate issues as well.

“We (Residence Life) try to facilitate some level of mediation between roommates,” Uchida said.

However, if roommates can’t get passed the conflict, relocation is an option. The moving student must obtain a transfer slip either from their current hall RED or potential hall RED.

Then, students who are moving have three days to move their belongings from their previous room to their new room.

“There is no fee for moving, it’s just looking at and knowing the difference of cost between where you’re leaving and where you’re going to be,” Uchida said.

For students living off-campus, finding an impartial third party to talk with through the situation is something that Crabtree suggests. He also suggested visiting WSU’s off-campus housing guide online.

“The website is a really good tool and underused tool,” Crabtree said. “It really helps with the transition moving off campus.”

Any student can benefit from conflict navigation, a communication skill students learn in Human Development 205, a class Cooper teaches. Students are asked to think about three steps: purpose, audience and plan, he said.

With all conflicts that arise, being aware of what one’s own behavioral tendencies are and the tendencies of others, helps with successful conversation.

“Regardless of what your personality type is, if you’re showing good behavior, you’re going to elicit good behavior from that person,” Cooper said. “Good behavior elicits good behavior.”