RAs can mediate with roomies

Jewel Devora
Photo & Web Editor

During Larkin Grant’s (‘08) three years as a resident adviser while she attended Occidental College, she says she’s mediated about a hundred roommate conflicts.

“I think there’s only been one roommate mediation where we’ve had to switch the roommates out of their room,” Larkin said.

“Everything can be solved with communication.”

The college counseling office recently brought Grant back to spend an hour talking with graduating seniors about dealing with roommate difficulties and dorm room living.

“The biggest problems I see with roommates are a lack of communication and no ground rules for four issues,” Grant said, “the lights, music and significant others in the room, and maybe being really mess or clean are also problems.”

Grant provided tips on how to deal with awkward shower situations and inconvenient lock-outs. As an RA, Grant’s job was to make the students in her dorm feel as comfortable and safe as possible. She was trained to deal with eating disorders, suicide, depression, homesickness, disagreements between roommates and a wide range of medical issues.

In selecting college roommates, many colleges are using Facebook as a tool, with pages allowing students to post facts about themselves as a way of pairing themselves for the next year. There has been a lot of chatter in the college community and beyond about the effectiveness of using Facebook as a roommate tool.

“If someone writes ‘I respect others, I’m empathetic towards others,’ those are important things, more so, than your sleep schedule.” Grant says when picking her own roommate she filled out a simple survey about her music tastes and sleep patterns.

“Looking on Facebook is hard its really easy to judge someone right away,” Grant said. “I think that people can be a lot different then their Facebook profiles.”

“I think it’s cool but I’d rather be paired up with someone random,” senior Isabella Borges, who was recently paired with a roommate for her first year at the University of Colorado at Boulder said about the Facebook pairings. Borges has been texting her roommate and talking with her on Facebook, but still has some fears.

“I was a little nervous when I first saw who my roommate was,” Borges said. “My roommate likes country music and I’m afraid we’re not going to get along.”

Grant has mediated many musical taste arguments, says the solution can be resolved by headphones.

“There is a compromise for everything, said Grant. “The problems come when there is no communication or no respect, and a lack of ground rules,” College counselor Lauren Blears has been giving roommate and dorm advice to seniors since May 1.

“Sometimes you are best friends with your roommate sometimes you are not and both are okay,” Blears said.

Blears and Grant both caution students about rooming with someone who is very similar to in tastes.

“If you’re very similar to somebody or if you’re really close it can provide difficulties in ways that you might not have imagined,” Blears said “If you’re living with someone you’re just cordial with and you just get along with sometimes, that’s a little bit easier. When you’re just getting to know everybody it’s so important to be the girl thats including everybody.”