Unsolicited Senior Advice: Surviving your roommates

Ryan Lynch’s weekly column tackles not messing up in college like he did. This week: How to keep things civil with new suitemates.


Ryan Lynch. Photo courtesy of Mohammed F. Emran

Ryan Lynch, Business Manager

College is the first time that many people live with a room or suitemate.


Fortunately, I shared a room with my brothers for most of my life, so I started freshman year knowing what to expect.


Whether you’re a freshman or a junior, take my advice: work things out sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you’ll regret spending your college years resenting your roommates.


From talking about the weeks-old dishes in the sink to turning your music down, here are some tips to make your living situation liveable.


Be honest about your problems


If your trash heap or dirty dishes stack is as tall as you, you and your roommate(s) are long overdue for a talk.


Leaving passive-aggressive sticky notes will only serve to piss off your roommate(s) and nothing will change. Instead, be straightforward about your issues.


You’d be surprised at how much can change when people are honest with each other, especially if they can come to an agreement/compromise.


Don’t be a jerk


There’s a give-and-take when you live with people.


Whether you like it or not, you have to be willing to take a look at your actions and how they could be perceived. E.g. don’t immediately assume who left the door unlocked.


Taking some time to self-reflect is important. If you don’t, you could be part of the problem without realizing it.


When it comes to living with people, just follow the age-old saying: treat others how you want to be treated.


Don’t blast the newest Kendrick Lamar if you didn’t ask your roommate(s) first. More often than not, the rest of the room just wants some peace and quiet. (That’s why headphones/earbuds exist.)


And don’t complain about messes if you leave them yourself. If you can’t practice what you preach, why should your roommate(s) listen to you?


If all else fails, find another person to help


So you’ve tried talking it out, but nothing’s worked. Don’t panic yet, you’re not alone.


If you live on a college campus, you have RAs who are trained to help mediate. If not, you could bring in a friend you haven’t told about the situation to listen to both sides and help you each come to a conclusion.


And if it’s at the point where you dread going home, talk to your RA and see if you can switch dorms.


Just be sure that’s what you really want to do, as the enemy you know may be better than the one you don’t.


Ryan Lynch is the business manager of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @RyanLynchwriter.