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Guide to being a courteous roommate


Francis Emelogu/The Cougar

One of the most exciting and rather traditional things about college is getting to live on campus away from parents and maybe even finding a friend for life in your roommate. Before that, though, there are some things to keep in mind before finding your BRFL (best roommate for life or berf-fl, if you like).

Here are some other things to keep in mind about being considerate:

1. Room keys: Calling your roommate for your key is one of the worst things you can do to them. If you do forget your key, be grateful to the person who opened the door for you.

Computer information systems senior Tommy Tran doesn’t play games when it comes to being a courteous roommate.

“Don’t ever forget your key, even if you have to pin it to yourself and bleed,” Tran said.

2. Phone rules: If you’re going to be on the phone for a long period of time, take it outside because your conversation can be very distracting. Additionally, no matter how hard your roommate is studying, they are going to be at least a little bit curious and distracted by your phone conversation.

3. Schedule knowledge: Knowing each other’s schedules helps. There will be a better understanding of how the other goes about their day and what routines they fall into. You’ll also know when you can get time to yourself because as much as you may love your roommate, you’ll need that alone time.

4. Car courtesy: For those who don’t have access to a car but do have a roommate that does, don’t take advantage of that fact. Ask them when they plan to go grocery shopping or out in general next and see if you can tag along.

5. Food: In terms of groceries, help each other buy food. Regardless of your food-sharing (or food-hoarding) policy, you are going to end up sharing food. This way, at least you’ll know which snacks you can and cannot steal.

6. Friends: As for people coming over, ask your roommate if they’re okay with people being in the room to hang out or sleep over. This is especially for those who have significant others. Warn your roommate. No one wants to be uncomfortable.

7. Cleaning: Something often overlooked by roommates is how to split up cleaning the bathroom (if they even bother worrying about it at all). Create a schedule where you clean the bathroom and actually enforce it. This pertains to the actual room itself as well. Keep your side of the room clean.

8. Compatibility: Then there are the roommates who come along that you are just not compatible with their craziness. For hotel and restaurant management senior Alex Gonzales, her roommate was much more of a terror.

“My roommate from freshman year seemed nice enough at first, but after the first few months she stopped her nice girl charade. She started to eat my food without asking and got weirdly jealous when I would hang out with anyone but her,” Gonzales said. “At some points she wouldn’t even acknowledge me if I was in the room. She would loudly make fun of any movie or TV shows I happened to be watching with my friends. It seemed that as the people around her began to realize how awful she was she turned back into the girl she acted like at the beginning of the semester.”

9. Humanity: Your roommate is human too. He may have worries and problems too, and he probably doesn’t want to add roommate troubles on top of it any more than you do.

“Be a reasonable and considerate human being,” said accounting senior Afolabi Ojo.

10. Communication: The thing to remember the most is that communication is extremely important when living with someone. It underlies every interaction you’ll have with your roommate. Because of this, roommate agreements are an essential element to successfully cohabiting with your roommate. It can be either verbal or written, but there needs to be one in place.

Boundaries need to be set and all parties involved need to discuss and agree on what is permissible and what is not, like whether or not it is acceptable to touch each other’s things or use each other’s items for example. It may be awkward at first, but it’s better to establish this first before it gets awkward later on and there is no guideline on how to handle it.

Another form of communication you can use is Facebook. Facebook, for how overrated it is perceived, is still an essential communication tool widely used by college students. Many potential roommates utilize it to get a feel for who the person they’re soon going to live with is like (we have all done it; there is no shame here) and will be an important tool for keeping in touch with whoever you decide is worth keeping in touch with.

However, the most important communication tool is still your voice. The first day you meet each other, sit down and take five minutes to talk to them since you will most likely not know them and will be living with them for the rest of the year.

“Have social awareness. If you know your roommate is not okay with something, stop doing it,” Tran said. “If your roommate is the kind of person to not say something, take it upon yourself to just not do it without them asking.”

It doesn’t take much to reach out and see if your roommate will be your new BRFL, and if it turns out they’re not, they’re probably still a cool human being … hopefully.

Opinion columnist Julie Nguyen is a communications junior and may be reached at [email protected].

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