Roomate Troubles, Anyone?

When I arrived back at UVM two weeks ago and signed in with my R.A., I was surprised to find a new form in the paperwork: a roommate contract. I thought it was an awesome idea. Last year I had a horrible roommate who I didn’t get along with for a second. If my insincere roommate and I had filled out this form and agreed on grounds for living together, would last year have been as bad as it was? I would like to give a resounding “yes” to that, but I doubt it would have changed much. But I do still think it is a step in the right direction that could benefit many on-campus dwellers and loosen tensions. The page-long contract asks more than twenty questions pertaining to every aspect of college life – study habits, sleep habits, smoking, guests. And possibly the most important: guests of the opposite sex. Yes, these other issues are important as well, but it seems to me that many students complain about their roommate’s boyfriend/girlfriend or guy/girl of the day. I believe the word “sexiled” – which has become deeply rooted in the college discourse – applies here. It seems absolutely childish to me that we, the mature twenty-somethings that we are, need a contract in order to live together peacefully. Why do we need to state in a contract concepts like, “I would like the television to be off when I study” or “we can only have guests over between the hours of 8 and 10pm?” Written in ink, these stipulations seem so trivial and immature. We should be able to live with another person without feeling a constant desire to strangle them. It’s a truly simple idea: be considerate. Most incoming college students aren’t accustomed to sharing a bedroom – a small one, mind you – with someone, let alone a stranger. Though it is a cramped space for two (or three) to share, it is a feat that can be accomplished. Here’s how: Tip #1 – Respect your roommate. I know this sounds like Kindergarten, but it works. If you respect your roommate, no matter the differences between you, your roommate will respect you back, making for a mutual non-hostile living situation. Tip #2 – Try to get to know your roommate. If you get to know each other, you will be more likely to end up friends (or at least friendly). Tip #3 – Consider your roommate’s class schedule. How early is their first class every morning? Don’t keep them up at night with your iTunes blaring when you know they have an 8am chem lab. Tip #4 – Be attentive of how much your roommate studies. If you don’t study a lot, but they do, be courteous. If this becomes an issue, suggest a compromise, for example designating several “study nights” during the week.