Roommate Troubles? No Problem!

Fourth Estate/Alexandria McAlpine


I remember my mother always said that two individuals can get along easily while living in separate households, but once you put them together they’re like two completely different people. I’ve noticed that this is the case throughout my time living on campus. Although I’m only in my second year, it definitely seemed to reign true during my freshman year too. That was when I had a squabble with my roommate. 

Although we got along over text and as mutuals on social media, we definitely both agreed that we weren’t meant to live together. Throughout my time here at Mason and through working with the Housing Department in my role in Student Government, I began to notice how simple and widely available resources are for students who live on campus to help deal with any roommate issues. With that said, I believe students should definitely utilize those resources to help with any issue they come across

I’ve already written an article titled “Be Patient With Housing” which suggests to students that patience is the best when it comes to working with housing, as the processes associated with housing certainly take time, but I got a lot of students asking me about the resources housing provides that are available to them. 

First and foremost, the one piece of advice I heard a lot while working on issues with housing is to never jump up the ladder when someone immediate can help solve a solution. It was highly recommended to me, especially by higher ups in Housing and Residence Life, to tell students, “you and your roommate may be having an argument over a popcorn bowl, but that doesn’t mean Dr. Holland, Chief Housing Officer, is going to want to hear it!” So I suggest, start with your resident assistant (RA) or community assistant (CA). RAs and CAs are there to help manage and mediate any interpersonal conflicts you may have — although do note that CAs and RAs have different jobs! CAs are more rules, and safety and fire checks-based, whereas RAs are probably what you’re looking for in a conflict-type situation. I would recommend talking to either, but definitely start with your RA depending on the severity of the issue, then move on to your CA.

If the issue is still persisting and it seems the RA or CA isn’t much help, I would recommend moving up to your community director (CD). They oversee RAs and CAs in your hall and will definitely have a firmer grip on policies and what to do. Just the other day, in fact, my CD told me she is in charge of disciplinary orders within my residence hall, so if you’re looking for that route then you’re in luck. Maybe they can help if the issue you are having is serious and may violate housing policies. 

If your issue is still not resolved, this is the time where you ask yourself something: is fighting over that popcorn bowl really worth it, or is your roommate making your life unbearable to the point that you can’t be near them at all for x, y and z reasons? If you answered yes to both parts of that question you can do one of two things. The first option is to talk to your CD and ask about a room change. Room changes will solve issues to the point where you’re completely away from the other individual (to whatever degree it seems you see fit) and you can breathe in peace. Or, If you’re really hellbent on getting the issue resolved, and not having to switch rooms, then I suggest you option two: go to the higher-ups in housing.

Here, no matter who you approach, each housing officer will recommend you to the appropriate individual who will help you handle your case. There they will work with you and all involved parties to take care of the issue at hand and your situation will be resolved in no time.

My thoughts on all of this? Be reasonable and be patient! Conflict resolution takes time and lots of hard work, so if you need immediate changes, seek them out. If you can wait, then wait and take the most appropriate path. Just remember: don’t ask Dr. Holland about solving your popcorn bowl problem. You’ll end up wasting everyone’s time, but most importantly your own. Time is valuable!