It’s the middle of July and you’re anxiously anticipating that letter in the mail. You’ve received lots of “Welcome to UR” mail, but not the one – your roommate assignment – the letter that tells you who you’ll be sharing your life with for the next year. Your freshman roommate, or roommates, as is the growing trend, is someone you’ll always share that special bond with. From your first meal to your first college hookup, your roommate is there, experiencing it with you, whether they want to or not.

With the advent of e-mail, AIM and now Facebook, initial impressions of roommates are quite different from what they once were. Often times roommates are familiar with each other before they even meet in person. According to Associate Director of Residential Life and Assistant Dean of Freshmen Dan Watts, this helps in transition and cuts down on conflicts, though it can also lead to false first impressions.

Inevitably, a situation will arise where your relationship becomes strained, and you’ll start wondering just how hard it would be to get a roommate change. Rest assured, it happens to all roomie matches. From differences in sleep schedules and cleanliness habits to personal space issues and those awkward sexiles, something’s bound to come up and cause discomfort.In general, most issues are minor, but there are those crazy stories that make us all thankful for the roommates we have. Believe it or not, according to Watts, one of the more prominent problems between roommates is not about visitors or quiet hours, but rather about hygiene. Apparently sometimes college students need to be reminded to do their laundry, throw away rotten food or to take a bath.

Also, although hard to believe, the majority of conflicts occur in doubles, rather than in triples and quads, as residents of these rooms seem to be more willing to compromise. Another surprising fact you may not guess is that females and males have just about equal amount of conflicts.

That being said, there are a variety of effective ways to deal with roommate clashes. Most importantly, open and early communication is key. Employ the “24-hour rule” with your roommate(s). If something comes up that makes you uncomfortable, bring it up and talk about it within 24 hours of its occurrence instead of keeping it bottled up until it snowballs into a huge ordeal or, alternatively, becomes a moot point. Early intervention is the best way to avoid continuing conflict. Strive toward using natural, flowing conversation that doesn’t include questions with one word answers. Also, don’t be afraid to refer back to the roommate contracts. They were created for a reason.

If resolution doesn’t seem feasible among the roommates, approach the Resident Adviser, Freshman Fellow or D’Lion. They’re trained to help in these types of situations. Rarely, issues then progress to the area coordinator and then to Watts, mediation services with the Dean of Students or the campus intercessor, Kathy Sweetland.

Don’t worry, though, this is highly unlikely, especially if communication is open from the beginning. If all else seems hopeless, just be thankful that you’re not the guy with the roommate who keeps his pet’s droppings in Ziploc baggies so that he can carry out scientific experiments.

Philbrick is a member of the class of 2009.

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