Your awesome roommate can make college a moonlit walk on the beach. For an entire year, you may enjoy what many people envy. If under the grace of the roommate god you are shacked up with a respectable person, make your time together worthwhile.
The decent roommate will share the wallet-crushing experience with you at the bookstore and grab you the last copy of The Communist Manifesto. You can bond while watching old re-runs of South Park while getting Slurpee brain freeze. Happy roommates will nosh food down at the cafeteria and complain about the aftermath of the chef’s special.
Existing as civilized college students will reap more rewards than expected. Although two people may look completely different and lack any similar interests, they might still able to be friends and maintain the peace.
For former freshman-year roommates Lindsay Keating and Stefanie Martoccio, their differences brought them together as friends. In the beginning of freshman year, Martoccio recalled her roommate hanging posters of industrial bands on the wall.
“And I was hanging up posters of Britney Spears,” she said. “I thought she wasn’t going to like me.”
Keating said her friends commented on the roommates’ differences in taste. “My friends would say ‘I bet you don’t like your roommate…it looks like night and day in here,'” Keating said.
The roommates also differ in their academic choices; Keating is an English major and Martoccio is a business and accounting major. Despite thetheir differences, they became close throughout the year. Martoccio attributed this to having different circles of friends. “I talked to her about everything,” she said. “Since she didn’t know my friends, she gave her opinion straight out.”
The roommates never quarreled because, according to Keating, “we made sure we communicated about everything.” Keating also noted that if you have a problem with your roommate, address it. “You’ve got to voice your problem,” she said. The roommate never quarreled because they kept open a steady line of communication.
But some roommates don’t have their lines open. Faced with infinite all-nighters before exam days, difficult ‘no absences tolerated’ policies and parallel parking in the dirt lot at 9 a.m., the last thing Temple students need is another obstacle. There is one lingering factor that threatens the integrity, coolness and patience of every student on every campus of Temple University: an evil roommate.
“My roommate got really drunk and threw up all over my closet,” sophomore Aaron Kalinay said. “Yeah, it was pretty disgusting.”
Horror stories of roommates from hell have circulated dorm rooms long before Temple began housing only freshmen. The roommate match-making process begins with a survey completed by the student. This brief survey was designed to curb conflict by matching students based on their answers. It includes options of smoking preference, cleanliness and sleep patterns.
But stories like those from junior JPRA major Alexander Rosenkreuz prove the survey’s fallibility. “I checked the ‘I am a non-smoker’ box [on the survey], but my roommate smoked constantly,” he said. “He’d smoke in the room and blow it out the window.” His roommate also put a sub-woofer on both desks in the room, where Korean boy band music regularly blared as Rosenkreuz tried to focus on schoolwork.
Temple University Housing’s Residential Life Guide explains this mishap. The guide says that proper roommate selection is based on the timing of the deposit and if the student is in a living-learning community. A living-learning community which is a community where students are housed on a floor with other newly admitted freshmen from the same academic school.” If a student wants to live with a particular person, it is best to send both applications in very early and together. Even though the survey filters basic roommate needs, personal standards get lost in the shuffle. When your signature piece of clothing is missing from your closet and it’s date night, tempers may flare. The survey may yield you a roommate who likes to sleep until noon, but won’t guarantee where your roommate will sleep.
“Yeah, I would come into my room to go to sleep, and he’d be there, sleeping in my bed,” Rosenkreuz said. “He’d have his shoes on my bed, too.”
The roommate situation can get tense at times, but don’t get discouraged by a roommate who is a descendant of Satan.
Aaron Kalinay found a way to deal with the awkward situations posed by his roommate. “I went to the gym,” he said. “A lot.”
There is a bright side of a nasty roommate situation: it’s only one year that you have to share everything. Even though everything might mean: your new Smiths T-shirt, food, SEPTA pass, textbooks, Usher’s CD, television, friend Jerome, privacy, soul. On the other hand, maybe your generous roomate will let your borrow her prized things.
If problems arise, take action before the situation gets too intense. The guide to residential life states that roommates who “value and exercise mutual respect, honesty, consideration and compromise are much more likely to have a successful and lasting relationship.”
But if your situation lacks these essential roommate values, disputes and bickering are likely to occur.
Sometimes even a calm and collected discussion can turn into a scream-fest. If compromise has come and gone, get your resident assistant’s attention. He or she should know how to properly handle roommate issues. In order to handle conflict situations between roommates, RAs at Temple train extensively.
“During the week, they bus us to RA boot camp for seminars with CERT,” said Justin Shronk, a fourth-year RA in dorm 1940. “When they have a problem, we look at the contract.” He said. “We point them to the solution, but we don’t give it to them.”
Most complaints, according to Shronk, deal with a roommate taking the other person’s things without permission. “They won’t talk [to each other] about the issue at first because they feel awkward,” he said. “We encourage them to talk to each other…that solves the problem most of the time.”
The RA can also refer feuding roommates to the Conflict Education Resource Team (CERT), located in the lower level of Tuttleman. CERT provides confidential mediation sessions between students who have conflicting interests.
To keep conflict out of your shared living space, it is important to stay open-minded. Don’t be intimidated by stories of rough living arrangements. For students like Kalinay and Rosenkreuz who had negative roommate experiences, there is a ticket off the bad-roommate island. To cut your living time from one year to one semester with your roommate, visit the Office of University Housing and ask for a room-change form. Submit the form during the room change period (between 10-14 days before or after the semester begins) to request a new roommate.
The University’s Guide to Residential Life and the room change form is available at the Office of University Housing, 1910 Liacouras Walk.
Alysha Brennan can be reached at email@example.com.