Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Opinion | Pay attention to the roommate agreements

CW / Shelby West

With freshman year quickly approaching, you probably have already picked out your roommate(s) and are checking off lists of who brings what, when and where. Once everyone is settled in, be prepared for your first floor meeting with your residential assistants. 

Beyond explaining dorm life’s basic rules and restrictions, the RAs will hand out a roommate agreement form for each room. While it may initially seem useless, this form could become a crucial way to keep the peace if the rooming situation becomes volatile. 

This form allows new roommates to set boundaries while living together. Beyond setting the desired temperature and giving each occupant’s general information, it sets a limit on noise levels, cleanliness, and borrowing appliances and food. 

It will undoubtedly become apparent that each person has a different opinion on these matters. The roommate agreement allots the opportunity to compromise. Some students may delve into the vast social sphere of the University, and others will depend on a private space to unwind or study. Proper use of the agreement can appropriately accommodate both lifestyles.

One can learn only so much about a person through a roommate preference form. 

Junior Makiyah Parker, a psychology major, reflected on a few reasons she wished she’d set firm expectations for herself and her freshman year roommates. Parker explained how this roommate would borrow clothes without asking and leave food out for others to pick up; but this wasn’t even the worst of it. 

“We were in a medical accommodation dorm that wasn’t being used, which have doorbells on them. She would never remember her key, so she’d ring the doorbell all hours of the day and night.” Parker said that students in neighboring rooms grew concerned after hearing the continuous late-night ringing. 

If there are things you think should go without saying, it’s always safer just to go ahead and say them. Being prepared for conflict with roommates is the best way to avoid them spiraling out of control. The form lets roommates create a plan of action for such circumstances. It sets how conflicting roommates should and should not communicate and reasonable escalation levels up to RA or staff mediation. 

The University’s official roommate agreement opens with the path to avoiding explosive conflict. 

“Communication is the single-most important factor in building good relationships with your roommate(s),” it states, putting plainly what we all (should) already know. 

Junior News Media major Bella Buono stressed just how key communication with her roommate was in a favorable freshman year.

“My roommate Anna and I got along so well. We would study together, get lunch together, and have movie nights in our room all the time.”

Buono said their relationship as roommates was not perfect. 

“We would have disagreements about cleaning or sharing spaces, but we were always upfront about communicating and would work through it together. Communication is key in any type of relationship, but especially in a roommate situation.”

Buono and her roommate lived in close quarters in a traditional-style 2 person dorm in Paty Hall. Though they now have separate living arrangements, they are still close to this day thanks to their honest and constant communication from the start.  

While it sounds easy, letting dust and bathroom cleanliness get out of control happens far too often. That can create unhealthy environments, especially during Alabama’s intense allergy season. 

The roommate agreement promotes honesty from the beginning of dorm life so that issues can be resolved quickly and with the agreement of each roommate. For those who usually avoid conflict, being upfront about these issues will help prevent future issues from arising.

College is a chance to build relationships that will stand the test of time. Starting this journey with a set expectation of communication is the first step. Not casting the roommate agreement aside, as tempting as it may be, can help ensure comfort in your new home. 

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