How to deal with roommates: Communicate, talk, discuss

Ann Kopecky

Ann Kopecky

Not all roommates are a match made in heaven.

That’s what Nicki Galvin found out her freshman year at South Dakota State University.

Galvin, now a junior nursing major from Faulkton, didn’t know her roommate when she came to college.

“It was hard. We both didn’t know each other and it was awkward living in such small living quarters,” Galvin said.

At first Galvin and her roommate got along, keeping their distance while maintaining a workable relationship. Then the problems started.

“She’d have her friends over until two in the morning. She didn’t respect me,” Galvin said.

At one point, the roommate relations became so difficult for Galvin that it affected her school work.

During finals week, Galvin tried to study in her room for two tests the next day. Her roommate, on the other hand, decided to have some friends over. Galvin chose to leave the room and find someplace else to study.

“I thought it was ridiculous that I had to leave my own room,” Galvin said.

But according to SDSU officials, roommate problems do not have to escalate this far.

Dana Northrup, a residential assistant for three years and currently a residential hall director, says these problems can be resolved through communication.

“In the beginning of the year when you first meet, talk to each other and let (each other) know what your styles are,” Northrup said. “Don’t let it linger until November without talking about it first.”

At the beginning of the year, each student living in the residence halls is required to sign a roommate agreement.

“It just says ‘I’m not going to overstep boundaries and prevent the roommate from doing what they want to do.’ It also says that you will talk about problems when they arise,” Northrup said.

If problems can’t be resolved between the residents, Northrup advises talking to the residential assistant.

“Basically the RAs are there to hear these problems and be a resource,” Northrup said. “They are trained to help resolve these situations.”

Northrup also recommends three tips for roommate relationships.

“You need to establish your communication lines early. Don’t spend all your time together. Keep your door open and make other friends and respect each other’s personal space,” Northrup said.