Keeping the Peace: Roommate Relations 101

Tips For Avoiding Dorm Disaster and Fostering Healthy Roommate Relationships in Your Suite


Published: August 27, 2009

Summer is over, and while it’s sad to say goodbye to your hometown friends and pack up all your stuff again, you can’t help being a little excited at all the possibilities that the upcoming school year holds. New classes, new friends and another year of living independently in New York City are all ahead of you. But along with all the excitement, there’s one scary thing that is out of your control: living with a roommate. Maybe you’ve never lived with anyone before, or maybe you’ve been bunking with your little sister for years. Either way, you are now being thrown into a box with a stranger and forced to live two inches away from someone you barley know. For better or for worse, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students live with up to seven other people in their suites.

A little clutter may not bother some people, but it might send your roommate running in the other direction. These sorts of annoyances will eventually rock the boat; anchoring your relationship from the beginning will ensure that your living situiation continues to be smooth sailing. (Jonathan Armenti/The Observer)

It’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable and it can be a disaster. Hopefully, you will be one of the lucky ones who find an instant connection with your roommates, playing video games until the wee hours of the morning or planning your wedding with them as your bridesmaids. But for the majority, it will be about coping. Here are some tips for keeping the peace in the room you both call home.


Fill Out the Roommate Agreement Form… For Real

In the beginning it’s new, it’s exciting, and you’re much more interested in bonding than in filling out boring paperwork. But the roommate agreement form is in place for a reason. In three months when the dishes are piled high, the shower is growing mold and your roommate is blasting music at three a.m., you’ll wish you had filled it out. Take the time to decide who is going to do what in your apartment; it will prevent awkward and confrontational living situations later on.


Take the Time to Get to Know Each Other

It might seem like you’re not a good match. A sports fan and a pre-med student. An actor and an English major. But there might be more there than meets the eye. Taking the time in the beginning to form a relationship with your roommate will make living in such close quarters much easier. Showing interest in their family, their life at home and their hobbies is a way to connect and foster a relationship.


Establish Boundaries

Some people don’t mind having background noise while they’re studying; Others need absolute silence. By establishing up front what you need in order to live comfortably you’ll be sure not to step on each other’s toes. And it goes both ways. If you never let your roommate know that the clutter drives you insane, how are they supposed to know it’s bothering you? Communicating with each other and establishing boundaries will help make your living situation more comfortable.



Here at FCLC, residents are blessed with apartment style dorms. But when midterms hit and everyone is juggling homework, jobs and social lives, it’s going to be hard to find time to wash your underwear, let alone clean an entire apartment. Getting yourselves organized from the onset will help you avoid disaster down the line.  Take a group trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond and get some supplies that will help keep your apartment organized during times of stress. Having extra toilet paper stored under the sink, a shower organizer to keep everyone’s toiletries neat and a dish rack to hold the drying dishes will help the apartment run more smoothly, which will take a ton of stress out of the picture in times when everyone is busy. Plus, the trip can definitely serve as a bonding experience for all of the suitemates!


Do Your Part

So it’s a couple months down the line and the good relationship you had begun to foster is now being bogged down by dirty laundry, eating dry cereal and having to use tissues as toilet paper. Filling out the roommate agreement is only half the battle, if you fail to uphold your part of the deal tensions are going to begin to rise. Make sure that you don’t start slacking on your tasks. Help out with keeping the common areas clean and keep your stuff organized so it doesn’t get in the way of your suitemates and cause tension.


Keep the Respect

So you tried your hardest to get to know everyone, and you just aren’t clicking. Just because you were placed together in a room doesn’t mean your destined to become lifelong friends, but the reality is like each other or not, you do have to live in the same room for the remainder of the school year. Continuing to respect your roommate’s boundaries and doing your part around the apartment will ensure that the relationship doesn’t go sour. Nothing is worse than coming home after a long day to an awkward room situation. So if you aren’t close, at least keep it pleasant so that the atmosphere isn’t uncomfortable for both of you.