How to be a good roommate


When it comes to being a roommate, Western students, there is one rule you need to remember above all else: it is “our room,” not “my room.”

This year may almost be over, but some of you will be taking summer classes or will return for the fall semester, which means you will still be a roommate to someone, with the exception of those who live at home or in an apartment on their own. There are a few rules or common courtesies you should remember so both you and your roommate will be happy, or at the very least content, with the arrangements you have been given.

Perhaps one of the most important rules to remember is what I just said before: this room belongs to everyone. It is your roommates’ room just as much as it is yours. Neither you, nor your roommates, have more rights to that room than anyone else who lives in it, save for where they sleep. Neither you, nor your roommate, has the sole rights to use the room for whatever you or they want, whenever you or they want, if the other roommates are bothered by it. You and your roommates should come to an agreement on what is okay and what is not.

The next thing to know is do not get offended if they do not like something you do in the room; they have the right to tell you that and ask you to come to an agreement on the matter. Say for example they do not like you inviting your friends over every night and ask if you could space out when you bring them so they can use the room too, or bring family or friends over themselves. This is reasonable, as you do not have sole rights to the main area of your room. Work out a solution with your roommates so both parties will be happy – maybe you can have your use of the main area over these days of the week and the other days, allow your roommates to use the main area.

Another very important rule is to respect each other. Do not put down your roommates or let them put you down because of some disagreement or resentment you have towards each other. This is harassment and can lead to removal from the dorm. If you feel like you are going to argue or come to confrontation, isolate yourself and try to calm down. Maybe talk to you friends or family about the problem. If this happens a lot, then the best thing to do is try to sit down and talk with the roommate you are having problems with, and get a resident assistant (RA) involved if needed.

Also remember that not everything that goes wrong in that room is one person’s fault. Do not try to blame each other so someone else has to fix it or clean it up or otherwise.

The next rule is tor respect any rules set into place, whether it be by the residence hall or by your roommates. As long as the rules are within reason, there is no excuse for ignoring them. Now if a roommate were to say that you were to clean the dishes all the time even if you did not make the mess, then you have the right to refuse. But say your roommate wants you to ask them if you can use their dishes: that is reasonable. Please do not just ignore the rules because you feel like you can do whatever you want, and your roommates have no right to act like that either.

On to the residence hall rules; it is very basic. No alcohol in the building or smoking in the building. The smoking is for safety reasons and so is the alcohol. If you do this, you risk getting your roommates into trouble with you. Also keep in mind if you smoke in your room and set off the smoke detector, nobody is going to thank you for that.

Also remember to respect quiet hours, which are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight to 10 a.m. on the weekends. This rule is changed to quiet hours at all hours for finals week. This does not mean anyone has to be completely quiet and turn off their music, not watch videos or TV or play video games. Instead, it means you need to keep your volume down, which varies depending on who you room with.

It is not unreasonable for a roommate to ask you to turn your volume down, or for you to ask them the same. If you or your roommate is trying to study or sleep, it is unfair if someone is keeping them from doing that because another roommate is being too loud. This especially applies to finals week when everyone is busy preparing for their finals. Just because one of you is done with your finals does not mean they have the right to throw a party in your room all night.

This also means keeping your volume down if you wake up before your roommates or they you. Just because one of you has an 8 a.m. lab does not mean anyone else who does not have to get up until later wants to get up when they do. I have had to deal with this before and have lost quite a bit of sleep over this. I have also had times where I had to go the library just so I could study due to the noise.

The last bit of advice I can give is to clean up your messes! Do not leave a mess for your roommate to deal with, and they should not do that to you. If you cook something and make a mess, make sure to clean it up, including the dishes. If you do not have the time to clean those dishes at that moment, make sure you do so later, preferably within the same day. Also make sure to get all the food out of it at least; if it sits there for days your room will smell like rotting food.

Clean the bathroom as well. If you shed – which you will – make sure you clean your hair up. Do not leave it all over the sink, toilet or in the shower. Also, remember to clean the toilet too if needed, and please flush it. At a university I used to go to before Western, we shared one bathroom per hall on each floor. So the boys had a bathroom they all shared, and the girls the same. If you know anything about cleaning staff in dorms, you know they typically do not clean on the weekends. Meaning that whenever somebody forgot to flush, which happened often, on a Friday, it would sit over the weekend and the bathroom would smell horrible. Not to mention nobody wants to flush the toilet for someone else, it is disgusting.

Remember to take out your trash and do your laundry as well. Having that pile up is rather gross, and eventually starts to smell. Do not expect your roommates to clean up for you if you procrastinate long enough.

Perhaps the only other advice I can give you is that if you want courtesy and respect, then you have to give it. Obey the rules, clean up after yourself, show respect and keep your volume in check. As cheesy as it sounds to use the golden rule, you really must treat others the way you want to be treated. Hopefully this will help you next semester with your new or old roommates.

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