Roommate problems, an ongoing issue

By Shane Evans
December 1, 2005

It is 5 a.m. and it seems like one freshman at Cabrini has not slept a wink because a roommate has been on the phone all night talking to a boyfriend. Freshman “Jane,” as she will be called because she wants to remain anonymous, feels that 24 hours a day, her roommate is inconsiderate towards her.

So why would Jane choose to live with her chatty roommate? She did not. When she arrived at Cabrini for freshman orientation over the summer, she was already paired with her roommate. Is this a recipe for disaster?

Laura Shapella, assistant director of Residence Life, shed some light on the ways roommates are paired up before freshman year. All incoming freshman are sent a questionnaire, asking them questions on how they live. These questions include, sleeping habits, smoking habits and cleaning habits, to name a few. Shapella said that Residence Life does the best it can to pair up students who have similarities.

Shapella also said, “This is not an exact science by any means, since people change and everyone’s answers are subjective.” She went on to comment on how each student’s idea of a neat room is different.

“Jane” feels that she and her roomate were not paired up correctly. She sees no similarity in they way they both live or in their personalities.

Shapella said that if incoming freshman have roommate requests, then Residence Life has no problem pairing those selected students together. However, with the new orientation style that came into effect this year, Residence Life received fewer roommate requests.

In the past years freshman orientation was held in the middle of summer. This event gave incoming freshman an opportunity to meet peers face to face. Orientation also raised the odds of students finding some one to room with. This year, the incoming freshman class was a part of a new style of orientation. The event was held in the end of Aug., right before classes started. This time decision left most freshmen to meet their roommate for the first time on move-in day.

Shapella said because of the fewer roommate requests, Residence Life did the majority of pairing of roommates within the office.

Freshman “Jane” commented on the new and old orientation style. She said, ” I think that the way Cabrini did orientation in the past would have been beneficial in helping me find a better roommate. However, I liked that we had orientation right before classes started so we could get settled before the upperclassmen moved in.”

Obviously, there is more than one freshman on Cabrini’s campus that deals with roommate problems. Another freshman “Michelle,” who also wants to remain anonymous, feels as though she and her roomate have nothing in common. Michelle, similar to Jane, did not choose her roommate. When asked about how she liked the style of the new freshman orientation, Michelle responded, ” We didn’t have freshman orientation in the summer.” She had not considered her time here before classes to be her orientation, although it was.

Michelle said that she would have preferred to have had an orientation in the middle of the summer in order to help her in finding a suitable roommate.

“If we had an orientation earlier in the summer, I think I would have been able to find someone who is more like me to be my roommate,” Michelle said.

Jane and Michelle, while both having roommate problems, both feel differently about the choice for the better freshman orientation style.

Shapella does not think that the new style negatively affects roommate pairing.

“I think in the past, people may have requested a roommate after knowing the person for a few hours. They may not have had the time to really get to know each other,” Shapella said.

Shapella believes that in the few hours that freshman meet in orientation, it may not allow enough time to determine who is truly compatible as roommates. She added that there are always roommate problems, but this year it is not any different from past.

Shapella said, “We know that roommate problems are inevitable and we do all we can to help students manage the situation.”

If a student is having a roommate problem, Shapella said the first thing the residents should do is try to talk it out with their roommates. If they still are not resolving their issues, the next step is to ask their Resident Assistant for help. RAs are trained to deal with roommate problems, to help mediate between the roommates. The final step is meeting with the Area Coordinator. If there is still a conflict, a room change can be requested.

Brian Scelzo, an RA on the freshman floor of New Residence Hall, said that he has had to deal with one or two roommate problems. He was trained on how to mediate the residents. Scelzo said he just listens and tries to hear both sides of the story.

Both Jane and Michelle do not feel that they needed to meet with their RA’s for mediation. Jane thinks that if she asked her roommate to go to mediation, it would just cause more tension in the room. Michelle said that there is nothing that mediation would do for her situation. Fighting is not the issue, the problem is they do not have anything in common and nothing to talk about. She said as long as there is no conflict, there is not any need to ask her RA for help.

Scelzo said he believes that simple things can help to resolve roommate conflicts. Scelzo said, ” The most important part is just listening.”

Loquitur welcomes your comments on this story. Please send your comments to: . The editors will review your points each week and make corrections if warranted.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Shane Evans

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