For new college students, there are few fears as pervasive as that of a roommate or suitemate that, to put it politely, complicates their domestic lives and frustrates their attempts to relax in a space meant to feel like a retreat from the rest of the world. A good roommate is a gift from above; they will help keep the place clean, bring you something from the dorm that you had forgotten or even help out with your laundry. But a bad roommate or suitemate can make your life absolutely miserable. Fortunately for students in this situation, there are options at hand.
According to the official Hokie Handbook, “The University encourages roommates to attempt to resolve issues that may be causing conflict.” Failing that, students may contact Residence Life staff within their hall, presumably their RA, for advice. If worst comes to worst, students may apply for a room change, which are granted generally on the basis of availability. If a room change request is granted, there are a number of steps that one needs to take and rules that must be followed.
First off, students to whom a room change is granted have 72 hours to vacate their current room and move into their new one. Students must check out with their RA in order to confirm the move and must check in with their new RA once the move is complete. Students will be instructed to move via email, and their Hokie Passports will automatically be updated to grant them access to their new room.
Unfortunately, applying for a room change is no guarantee that one will be granted. As previously mentioned, there are only so many rooms to spare, and sometimes moving will simply be unfeasible. With this in mind, there will be circumstances in which a face-to-face dialogue with a troublesome roommate is the only available option.
Of course, attempting to resolve differences with such a person doesn’t always work; if it did, no one would ever need to change their rooms. But if no other option is immediately available, it is worth a try. Conflict resolution revolves around clear communication and a mutual desire for harmony. Without these, a discussion will likely devolve into a shouting match from which animosity and resentment are the only logical byproducts. If you cannot conceivably conduct a conversation with your roommate where respect and clarity are key factors, then doing so may only make the situation even worse.
There are many options available to students who need distance from their roommates; some as direct and drastic as changing rooms, others as simple as spending more time studying in the library. But the fact of the matter is that a room is meant to be a peaceful, rejuvenating space for students, and that this is something every student is owed as a matter of course. As such it is good that the university provides students options to resolve conflicts with roommates, but with the recent housing crisis leaving the dorms with more students than they can presently handle, the future of these kinds of resolutions is in danger.