Two roommates in Sanford Hall studying on their beds with laptops

Connecting with Roommates

Our goal is to provide the best possible support services to help you achieve the roommate relationship you want. You and your roommate may not always agree, but it’s still possible to have a respectful living environment that allows you each to thrive.

We hope you will establish a strong roommate relationship where you can lean on one another for care and support. Your ability to develop a positive and trusting relationship will depend on how well you’re able to communicate about potential issues.

COVID-19 Update

Creating a positive living experience for you and your roommates takes forethought and good communication during the most ideal circumstances, and these skills will be even more important this year. Right now, working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 will help keep you both healthy and able to remain focused on your goals. 

Find information below to help you plan for a living environment that is cooperative, mindful of community health & safety, and respectful of individual differences. See also: Housing COVID-19 Updates.

Changes to Your Space

We’ve taken steps to help roommates share living spaces successfully while mitigating risks associated with COVID-19. All adjustments are based on guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Visit COVID-19 Updates for more info and FAQs.

  • Rooms were measured and furniture was placed to ensure there is enough space to maintain the recommended 6 feet of physical distance while occupying your room at the same time as your roommate.
  • Do your part to keep personal spaces clean by keeping a supply of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies in your room. 
  • Enhanced cleaning and signage in common areas will help remind community members about safety outside your room

Communication is Key

Here are some tips for communicating with your roommate about COVID-19 and other possible points of tension:

Consider what kind of space you need in order to be successful. 

How will those things differ from preferences you can compromise on? For instance, a need might be setting a common expectation for when lights and noise will be minimized in your room in order to support a full night’s rest. A preference might be where you’ll keep shared cleaning supplies and whether you will share food items stored in the room.

How will you communicate expectations? 

Think about what ideal will communication will look like before you move-in. Will you use text messaging? Snapchat? Email? Another application? We recommend trying a video conference before moving in, if possible, to get used to one another’s communication styles.

Be open about your concerns.

It can be hard to be direct and assertive with someone you just met, but honesty and transparency are often appreciated when negotiating common expectations. If you are nervous about stating what you need, practice with a close friend or family member before reaching out to your roommates.

Listen with an open mind.

Even if you don’t share the same concerns, they are real for your roommate, and you owe them the respect of listening with compassion. Be empathetic, and work towards understanding. 

Respect guest policies and each other.

With the maximum occupancy policy in place, it will be important to communicate about hosting guests in your space. Setting up an agreement about guests should be an explicit part of your pre-move in communications with your roommate. How often will guests be welcome in your room/apartment? Where do you each stand regarding overnight guests? Are there particular hours of the day/night during which you’d prefer no guests are present? How will you communicate with one another about your intent to host guests in the space? 

Download our guide to help with these and other important points related to COVID-19. 

Pre-Move In Guide

Conflict Happens

Conflict is a normal and natural part of any roommate relationship. Rarely do people live together without ever experiencing some sort of conflict. You should expect and prepare for conflict to arise around any number of topics, including differing perspectives and experiences around COVID-19, in particular this year. If you already know your roommate and consider yourself to be good friends, remember that even good friends encounter bumps living together. 

Typical roommate conflicts include:

  • Conflicts over property or belongings develop when expectations about personal belongings were not clearly communicated, or when agreed upon expectations are not respected. 
  • Conflicts over behaviors arise when specific behaviors negatively impact someone’s ability to sleep, study, and/or socialize in their space. (e.g. loud noises while one roommate is trying to sleep or study, frequency of guests, behaviors involving alcohol, cannabis, or other controlled substances.
  • Conflicts over values can be challenging when we need to maintain a relationship with someone who is driven by a set of values different from our own. Values are basic and fundamental beliefs that help us to determine what is important to us (Ethicssage.com, 2018) and form the basis for our thoughts, opinions, priorities, and actions 

Think about how you want to respond to conflict in your room or apartment. Will you seek support from your Community Advisor right away? What are your "deal breakers" and where are you willing to compromise? Talk about this with your roommate before arriving on campus. You’ll have additional opportunities to work through the details of a roommate agreement with your CA after move-in. 

    We're Here to Help

    Your building team is here to guide roommates in resolving conflicts with an emphasis on mediating tensions before they reach a breaking point.

    The Pre-Move-in Guide is meant to help roommates discuss expectations specifically related to COVID-19. Your CA will reach out during the first month of the semester to offer assistance with completing your Roommate Agreement.

    Facilitated mediation can be requested with your CA or RD. Community Advisors may be helpful if you want the facilitator to have knowledge & experience with what it’s like to live in you do, while your Residence Director can bring their professional experience in mediating roommate conversations. After engaging with HRL staff mediation, you may seek additional guidance from a non-HRL unit, such as the Student Conflict Resolution Center, Student Counseling Services, or Boynton Health.

    More resources