Room Transfers Are Last Resort in Conflicts


Members of the Office of Residential Life try to resolve roommate conflicts before considering a transfer. (JESSICA HANLEY/THE OBSERVER)


Conflict between roommates is something that many college students face. Often, it is resolved through communicating with esident assistants (RA) and resident freshmen mentors (RFM). Other times, however, a room transfer may be the only solution for troubled roomies.

While room transfers typically happen each semester, they are not frequent, according to Jenifer Campbell, director of Residential Life at Lincoln Center (LC). “I would say if we go above 15 during the semester, that’s a high number,” she stated.

As for why some residents seek room transfers, Campbell shared that the most frequent reason is simply misunderstandings between roommates. “Misunderstandings of sharing the environment, sharing items, sharing personal effects…” are all common complaints that Residential Life faces, according to her.

In explaining the reasons why students seek room transfers, Campbell emphasized the importance of the housing surveys many students are asked to fill out. “I always ask [students] to be very honest in terms of their personal preferences.” Campbell said. “Making certain that people are honest in terms of what they expect from their roommate,” Campbell added, is very important.

There appears to be no correlation between students transferring rooms and their respective class year. When asked if freshmen are more likely to request room transfers than other students, Campbell replied: “You would assume that the vast majority [of room transfers] are associated with first year students. Not the case.”

As for whether or not both roommates feel that a transfer is necessary, Vicki Massy, associate director of housing operations for Residential Life, said that “it varies.” Campbell added that “sometimes it’s a pivotal point for both individuals and all of a sudden it’s like ‘look, I need to talk to someone.’”

Although a room transfer may seem to be the best solution for someone facing difficulties with their roommate, a transfer is never the first option. “Before you even get to a point where you transfer to a room, we start with working with the RAs.” Campbell said. “[RAs] are trained to mediate the situation themselves first.” Massy added. “They would know a little more about the situation and how to approach [the students].”

If an RA is unable to resolve roommate conflict, the problem will then be handed over to a Resident Director. At this stage, Campbell explained that the Office of Resident Life will “do a lot of negotiations in working with the roommate contract in terms of making certain that folks are respecting each other.”

When problems are unable to be resolved through the Office of Resident Life, Campbell stated that “If at the point that it goes to the RD, that it can’t be resolved, then [The Office of Residential Life] look[s] into whatever vacancies or openings there are that are available.”

Room availability is pivotal for transferring to another room. “This has happened in the past when we had absolutely no vacancies whatsoever,” Campbell said. Speaking from past experience, Campbell explained that “If no rooms are available for a transfer, typically a mutual switching of rooms is done between friends.”

Students who request to change rooms also shouldn’t assume that they will be the ones to move. Massy explained that it “depends on the situation.” Although this is typically the case, students who have not requested a room transfer have been moved “…as a result of an infraction of policy and things of that nature,” according to Campbell.

For students considering a room transfer, they can be assured that there typically is no financial consequence. Campbell stated that a room transfer carries no fee or fine. “The only time that there is a cost associated is if you move to a different type of room,” Campbell explained. This would mean moving from a double to a single room, for example.

Room transfers aren’t necessarily a quick fix as Massy and Campbell pointed out, which is why the Office of Resident Life stresses the roommate survey that residents fill out. When asked about the surveys, Campbell pointed out that “they’re as effective as individuals are in their honesty. That’s the time to really speak the truth.”