More than 2,200 undergraduate students live in a Temple residence hall in rooms with dimensions that typically measure 11 feet 10 inches by 12 feet 6 inches.
Because that room is normally shared between two students – or four students in a suite that is double the size – finding time to be alone can be difficult, and finding time to be alone with a significant other can be even trickier. Cooperation with a roommate can alleviate this problem.
“My roommate and I just ask for the room through text if it’s spur of the moment, but we try to let each other know in advance so the other can make plans,” said Jineen Carcamo, a freshman advertising major.
Even when plans for room possession are negotiated ahead of time, accidents can happen. When Carcamo’s roommate once asked if she could have the room for two hours, Carcamo said she was going to see a play in the city and agreed to the deal.
“I told her when I’d be back, and she said that her friend would definitely be gone,” Carcamo said. “I got back from the play even later than expected, and my door was still locked. I had to sit in my friend’s room for another hour and a half while she finished.”
While text messaging has become a popular and convenient mean of communication, some students prefer to use more symbolic clues to indicate the room is occupied.
Michelle Daniele, freshman biology major, had a pragmatic explanation for her object of choice.
“We always use a tie: 1. It is the most noticeable, 2. It is least likely to fall off the door [and] 3. It’s the closest object to my door, so it’s really not rocket science,” Daniele said.
A hair-scrunchie on the doorknob suits Ellen Confer, freshman nursing major.
“Thankfully, my roommate’s understanding and knows my boyfriend can’t visit very often and doesn’t mind finding something else to do for a while,” Confer said.
Students’ perception of sexual health was the subject of one psychology group’s senior research project. The group of three organized a scheduled chat room titled “Let’s chat about sex,” that open to those from age 18 to 25, where participants discussed sexual health and what that entails.
Although the study was still being conducted, some patterns have been already been noted.
“There [seems to be] a variety of differences between men and women when it comes to sexual health,” said Michele Pardue, a senior psychology major. She attributed these differences to the discrepancies over what is important when being sexually healthy.
“I believe communication is very important when sharing living space,” Pardue said about dating in the dorms. “You have to be able to tell your opinions, listen to your roommates’ and then come to a compromise.”
Pardue advised that when problems consistently arise, the student should reach out to their resident assistant for help with facilitating an agreement.
“Most of the students living in the Temple dorms are underclassmen, so some may already have the added stress of being away from home for the first time,” Pardue said. “All of this added stress can have a negative effect on someone’s grades and social life.”
Taylor Shea has been a RA in Temple Towers since August 2010. She said a large part of training to become an RA involves practicing how to deal with roommate conflicts.
“We go over are how to deal with residents who are upset [that] the significant other [of one roommate] is in the room,” said Shea, a sophomore broadcast, telecommunications and mass media major.
The first step is to talk to the roommates individually so that the desires of each can be properly understood.
“It is much easier that way because we are able to find out exactly what each roommate wants in the agreement without having the other constantly interrupting,” Shea said.
Next, both roommates are sat down to discuss the changes they would like to see. This usually involves a re-examination of the Roommate Agreement forms each person filled out in the beginning of the year. The guest policy is uniform in all residence halls.
Each resident is allowed to use their guest card to bring three guests with a picture ID into the building. Each resident is limited to three overnight visits a week. Guest card violations are frequent occurrences. Shea discussed a situation where one resident’s boyfriend stayed over night for four nights in the same week.
“When he was caught and told to leave, it was noted that he was from out of state and had nowhere else to go,” Shea said.
The loophole discovered was to have one of her roommates sign him in as her guest. When violations happen, the guest card is confiscated for an extended amount of time.
Although residents of Temple dorms have to convince roommates to sign in their guests to gain extra overnight visits, gender-neutral housing has become a reality at one local university. Rutgers University recently decided to tackle the anxiety that can arise from date nights in same sex dorms in a progressive way.
Beginning Fall 2011, some Rutgers students will be able to live with a roommate of the opposite sex in three campus residence halls, campus officials said. This new program was originally designed to help lesbian, gay, and transgender students cope with roommate anxiety, but coed living will be an option for heterosexual students, too.
“Keep to the times that you asked for and be courteous,” Carcamo said. “If your roommate has work to do, don’t kick her out just so you can get some.”
Haley Kmetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.