CAUTION: BAD ROOMMATES AND LACK OF COMMUNICATION CAN LEAD TO UNCOMFORTABLE SITUATIONS.
PHOTO CREDITS: ABBY SMITH
Story by Jackie Cohen
If you live in the dorms, your next year relies on your compatibility based off of a 35 question survey.
“That’s not a lot of questions, but we were pretty well matched with regards to living situation, but the survey did not include questions about personality,” said Rachel Gossen, a sophomore English major.
Soon after, your residence advisor sits with you and your roommate to work out a roommate agreement, establishing norms for the room to avoid conflict.
“We try our best to make sure that our residents are happy in their living situation, but conflicts are inevitable and in those situations we work with the residents and the Office of Housing and Residence Life to resolve the conflict,” said Amanda Lee, a junior communications major and resident advisor in Pralle-Sodaro Hall.
The roommate selection process at Chapman is simple. New incoming students have to fill out an online form describing their sleeping patterns, cleanliness, smoking habits, musical interests, sharing of belongings, etc.
The Office of Housing and Residence Life then groups the students based on academic program and matches them up with roommates that have the same or similar living habits based on their responses to the survey.
“Current students are not matched up by the Office of Housing and Residence Life. Rather, they participate in a housing selection process that they apply for the new academic year or lease term. It is through this process that current students choose where they want to live and with who,” said Sarita Vaughn, housing assignments assistant.
Some students do befriend their roommates and spend a lot of time together.
“I live with 5 of my really good friends right now and it's awesome because we are able to bring up problems without turning them into huge confrontations. We also have a really funny house group message and lots of funny jokes,” said sophomore English journalism major Caroline McNally. “Before the semester started, we all went to see a play in Los Angeles together and tried to have some family dinners as a way to bond, because we didn't all know each other super well.”
Many other students have a relationship with their roommates where they can live with each other and respect each other with out being best friends. This is the most common way for a rooming situation to go.
Unfortunately, rooming situations aren't always like in the movies, where roommates become best friends.
“There is not a ‘common’ rooming issue as it is unique to the individual who deems the issue as being an ‘issue,’” Vaughn said.
If this is the case, Chapman has various sources to help students to solve their problems including residence advisors, residence directors, and the Office of Housing and Residence Life.
Lee recommends that students maintain open and honest communication to avoid having more issues, however, when communication between the roommates isn’t enough, the residence advisors mediate between the roommates.
During mediation, the residence advisor takes out the roommate agreement and discusses the aspects of the agreement that are causing conflicts. Each roommate then has the opportunity to describe what has been bothering them.
Lee usually sets ground rules with her residents. These ground rules include only using I-statements and watching each person’s “air-time” so that each roommate has a chance to express their concerns.
“I always try to collaborate with residents to create a solution unique to their living situation,” Lee said. “I find that when students are actively involved in creating a solution, they become more invested in it and are more likely to implement it in their room.”
If mediation and updating the roommate agreement does not work, students are advised to contact Vaughn to begin the process of finding a new room.
Vaughn meets with the student that wants to switch rooms. She shows the options available that have high compatibility based on their online surveys. The student can request to choose a specific building or to be placed in a double or triple, however, the specifications can delay the switching process.
“It depends on where they are moving and who they are requesting to live with. Assignment changes generally happen within a 48 hours time period,” Vaughn said.
According to Vaughn, less than 50 percent of students switch rooms during the course of the year.
In an ideal world, roommates would get along with each other and won’t need to move, but it takes an effort on people adjusting to other peoples’ living habits. By trying to understand your roommate and communicating, you will probably get along better and have a more positive rooming experience.
“Be open to students who come from different backgrounds and share your differences in a positive way,” Vaughn said.
That 35 question survey gave you your roommate, but what you do to be a better roommate and adapt to one another will will enhance your experience.