They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but for one Troy freshman, whose identity was stolen by his roommate, there was nothing flattering about the gesture.
After moving into Alumni Hall during his first semester at Troy, Douglas knew that there was something off about his new roommate. He described the student as “sketchy” and said he would disappear for weeks at a time. Little did he know, by finals week, his roommate would skip town with all of his savings and leave him $3,000 in the red.
As soon as Douglas filed a police report, he was informed that his roommate was the alleged culprit. Although Douglas’ money was returned, his old roommie was still on the run. For this reason, his name was changed for publication.
Although your roommate may not clean out your bank account, Gina Mariano, assistant professor of psychology, said that there are topics that freshmen should go over with their roommates before or as soon as they move in together.
“Do they want to do their homework at midnight?” Mariano asked. “Is that when they start their homework, or are they early birds? Do they get up at 5 a.m. in the morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? They (freshmen) probably want to know these things before they move in.”
She suggested that talking about hobbies, likes, dislikes and lifestyles can also be a good ice-breaker for new roommates and that setting boundaries in the beginning will save tears down the road.
The list of discussion topics includes, but is not limited to, sleeping habits, personal space, personal property, cleanliness, eating habits, weekend schedules, noise levels, hobbies, visitors and significant others.
Mariano said that there have been instances in which two roommates became three roommates without the consent of both parties.
“You might think you have a roommate, but you might not know that your roommate may also have a roommate,” Mariano said. “So, along with this person comes someone else.”
She said that communication is what will save this relationship and make for a happier environment.
“This is like living with a sibling,” Mariano said. “You may not want to say the things that need to be said, but if you want to have a happy, healthy relationship, you need to say them.”
Eric Wilbert was a senior Spanish major from Enterprise who lived in a loft apartment with six other men during the spring semester of 2014. He explained their process for keeping up with housework.
“We have a bowl, and we have different areas of the apartment that we are going to clean (on slips of paper), and we draw from the bowl to get a chore. Like, I get the front bathroom or the Xbox room or something.”
Wilbert said that they follow this routine weekly. If they did not, he said, the space could get dirty with seven men living in a tight space.
“We all have our own area to clean, and we usually do it on Sunday after church,” he said.
Mariano recommends a checklist, like the one provided with this story, for students who are nervous about approaching their new or potential roommates. However, she said that she does not recommend having this conversation in the dorm.
“When you are in the dorm room, sometimes it’s really difficult in that small space just to say what you want to say or say what you think you should say,” she said. “But if you go to a neutral territory, like McDonald’s or Zaxby’s, you are going to feel better because it’s more comfortable. You are not going to feel as confined.”
She reminds students that along with sharing a meal comes the emotional association with “happy times, memories and celebrations.”
Samantha Johnson was a junior biomedical science major from Phenix City who was a resident assistant in Pace Hall for two years. She said that sleeping habits and cleanliness issues have been the most common complaints from her residents.
She tells students to “learn how to compromise” when it comes to roommate disagreements.
“You have to learn how to give and take,” Johnson said. “You need to realize that there is another person that lives with you, and you both have to be willing to be flexible.”
Johnson said that some roommate situations are impossible to solve without compromise. For example, if one roommate needs complete silence to sleep and the other roommate needs to sleep to the sound of the TV, no one is going to win. In this situation, she would suggest that one of the roommates turn the volume down on the TV while the other uses earplugs.
“When one of the roommates or both of the roommates is uncooperative, that’s when you come to us,” she said.
She asks that students try to work out the problem themselves before going to an RA, but said RAs are there to help if efforts fail.