Living With Roommates
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 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Find information below to help you plan for a living environment that is cooperative, mindful of community health & safety, and respectful of individual differences.
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 our Spring FAQ page for more.
- Rooms were measured 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.
- Beds are placed so you’ll be able to sleep with your head at least 6 feet away from your roommate.
- Do your part to keep personal spaces clean by keeping a supply of hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies in your room. Visit our What to Bring page for more.
- Enhanced cleaning and signage in common areas will help remind community members about safety outside your room
The 2020-2021 Community Behavioral Standards include a policy on maximum occupancy for your room or apartment:
- If you live in a single, your room’s maximum occupancy is 3.
- If you live in a double, your room’s maximum occupancy is 6.
- If you live in Keeler, Radius, Wilkins, or Yudof, the maximum occupancy for your entire apartment is 10.
You are responsible for making sure you do not have any more than the maximum number of occupants in your room or apartment at any given time.
In accordance with State of Minnesota and University requirements, face coverings must be worn to cover both the nose and mouth when in any enclosed or indoor space on University property and outdoors when physical distancing is difficult. This includes your building’s hallways, lobby and Information Desk areas, lounges, dining halls, tech lounges, shared bathrooms, and any other social spaces. You are not required to wear a mask inside your assigned room or apartment when just you and your roommate are present.
Communicating with Your Roommate
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. Working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 will help keep you both healthy and able to remain focused on your goals.
Here are some tips for communicating with your roommate about COVID-19 and other possible points of tension:
- Take time to consider what kind of space you need in order to be successful, and how 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.
- Think about how you will communicate expectations for the room or apartment. What will communication look like pre-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 is 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 roommate(s).
- 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.
- 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 pre-move in guide to help with these and other important points related to COVID-19.
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.
Here are some examples of typical roommate conflicts:
- Conflict over property or belongings develop when expectations about personal belongings were not clearly communicated, or when agreed upon expectations are not respected.
- Conflict 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.
- Conflict 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 (CA) 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.
Here are some additional resources to help you communicate effectively while navigating a conflict with your roommate(s):
How We Can Help
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.
Our staff is available to guide you in resolving conflicts with an emphasis on mediating tensions before they reach a breaking point:
- Pre-move in guide: The information in this guide is meant to help roommates discuss expectations specifically related to COVID-19.
- Roommate agreement: Your Community Advisor (CA) will reach out during the first month of the semester to offer assistance with completing your roommate agreement.
- Facilitated mediation:
- You may request mediation from your CA. This may be helpful if you want the facilitator to have knowledge & experience with what it’s like to live in your residential community.
- You may request mediation from your Residence Director. This may be helpful if you want the facilitator to be someone with professional, full-time experience 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.
It can be tempting to seek a new room assignment when faced with roommate conflict. This is an understandable response to the prospect of needing to have a difficult conversation in order to resolve issues. However, it’s important you try to work on any issues contributing to conflict before requesting a room change.
Remember, room reassignments offer no guarantee that your new roommate will be a better fit than the roommate with whom you’ve already started building a relationship. You may have to go over a few speed bumps in order to reach a living situation that works for both of you. Roommate relationships are an investment, and they take time.
A reality of living on campus during the COVID-19 pandemic is that Housing & Residential Life will need to conserve open spaces in our facilities for students who need to be isolated due to being ill. Housing these students properly in order to decrease the public health risk to our community will be prioritized over all other move requests. This means that space will likely be more limited than in previous years, and we cannot guarantee that a reassignment request will be feasible in all circumstances.