Orientation guide: Several options available to solve roommate troubles

Caitlyn Massy | Collegian Rachel Robertson, freshman in animal science, and Charlotte Graham, freshman in mass communications, talk in their dorm room on Monday. “The No. 1 thing that makes these problems difficult is that people will talk through other people instead of talking face-to-face,” said Nick Lander, assistant director for residential life.

One major change that college presents is a change in one’s living situation. Whether students join a greek house, live in residence halls or get an apartment off campus, most will be living with at least one roommate. Living with a stranger, your best friend or an acquaintance can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be impossible or stressful.

“Issues with roommates aren’t as frequent as people think,” said Nick Lander, assistant director for residential life. “These are just significant because you’re sharing space with another person.”

According to Lander, the key to finding a solution to any roommate problem is straightforward communication.

“The No. 1 thing that makes these problems difficult is that people will talk through other people instead of talking face-to-face,” Lander said.

Sarah Gittemeier, freshman in engineering and resident of Boyd Hall, agrees. Gittemeier lives with two other girls and so far has faced very few problems.

“I think it’s all about communication,” Gittemeier said. “That and not letting the small stuff get to you.”

Going “potluck,” which means choosing the option to let the university pair up students based on a few key points, is neither the best nor the worst way to find a roommate. Landers said that the Department of Housing and Dining Services has received just as many complaints from students who went potluck as from students who picked their roommates personally because they knew them from high school or were friends.

Gathering basic information, such as whether students tolerate smoking and when they like to be active, has proved to be a successful method of putting together students who do not come in with a preselected roommate.

“I think this is a pretty good system,” Lander said. “It’s more of a guide when matching students up. It also depends on what hall you’re living in and what room type.”

Once students have moved into their residence halls, they are encouraged to complete a roommate agreement. A roommate agreement is a physical contract between roommates agreeing to set rules and to talk about any future issues and what to expect if a problematic situation should arise.

If the roommate contract is not sufficient to resolve these difficulties, resident assistants are trained to help. In the two weeks before fall classes begin, the RAs meet and talk about various scenarios that might occur between roommates, according to Felicia Walker, RA in Boyd Hall and sophomore in animal sciences.

“It’s hard work because every situation is different,” Walker said. “Even if it’s the same situation, different people will react differently. RAs try to get people to work past their differences and see different aspects of other people.”

If a resident cannot work out problems with a roommate, there are other options available. Within Housing and Dining Services, there are graduate students that residents can talk to about their problems.

As a final resort, students can apply to move to another room. For students who want to change rooms, Housing and Dining Services offers a roommate-matching website to help students find each other. The site, called Lifetopia, works much like the dating website Match.com. It is a free service for students.

Students can also chose to live in single-person rooms, which are located in all residence halls. This was the best option for Kat Deckert, resident of Putnam Hall and sophomore in psychology and biology.

“I like having my own space, and sometimes I need my alone time,” Deckert said. “Plus, I get to socialize in the common areas, like the lobbies.”

Some students also opt to move into an apartment. Christian Heitschmidt, sophomore in agricultural economics, lived in Haymaker Hall last year but decided to move into an apartment afterward.

“I just liked having my own space and not having people around when I’m doing homework,” Heitschmidt said. “My roommates now are more laid back and we come and go. I think that helps more than anything because if they don’t want to hang out, then you can just leave and do something else.”

For more information on K-State Housing and Dining, visit housing.k-state.edu.