Student Perspectives on Roommate Conflicts
Roommate conflict perspective 1
In my experience as a Collegiate Fellow in a first-year residence hall, we only had one major roommate conflict that resulted in a move the entire year. I attribute this to the fact that the Office of Residential Life spends a great deal of time with the roommate selection process.
The entire process is done literally by hand (there are no computers involved) and it is an extremely articulate process. They make every attempt possible to match up a pair of roommates based on the preferences they mark on their housing profile that each student fills out prior to coming to Gustavus. If a roommate conflict does arise however, both the Collegiate Fellows and the Residential Life staff are very accommodating and willing to talk through and become aware of the problem so that it can be addressed in the most appropriate way possible.
Roommate conflict perspective 2
When your student calls home and says, my roommate is really getting on my nerves today, don't take it to mean they want to switch roommates. Perhaps one, or both, have had a bad day or week. It is important to allow your student to vent their frustration. By telling you their feelings, they aren't necessarily asking for your advice or for a solution. They will ask if they do. The most important thing they need to know is that you understand and support them.
When a roommate conflict arises, one that needs to be discussed between the roommates, ask your student if they are comfortable with contacting their Collegiate Fellow. Collegiate Fellows (CF) have been trained to assist with roommate conflicts. They will be professional, listen, and not take sides. The CF does not have to be present for the actual confrontation, but can also advise your student beforehand on how to approach the roommate. Collegiate Fellows are a valuable resource to use.
I lived with my first year roommate for two years. We have had an amazing friendship and I wouldn't have wanted a different roommate. However, we didn't always see eye to eye. The suggestions I gave above are from my own experience. My roommate and I never had that big of problem where we needed to ask someone to help us, but had we not taken the time early to express our feelings and frustrations, it may have escalated. I am a senior this year, and last year I was a CF in Norelius, a residence hall for first year students. It was a valuable experience for me and I was able to help and watch my residents grow as they worked out their problems and celebrated their joys. I know that any of my fellow CFs and myself were always happy to assist any resident. That's what we are there for!
Conflict/Resolution skills are important for your student to learn. Support and coach, but allow your student to be in control and take control of the situation. My mother always encouraged and supported me when I questioned what to do, but she didn't give me an answer. And as a student and young adult, I appreciated that.