Roomie to the rescue: how to be the right roommate


Rebecca Turnbull

Sophomore roommates Sarah Nix and Sonia Chandi determine how to divide up responsibilities while rooming in Willis Hall on Marshall’s campus.

Each time Kristin Chandler entered her dorm room during her first year at Marshall University, she said she felt trapped.
She and her roommate had not been getting along, and it seemed as if there was no way out of running into another argument.
Now a senior business management major planning to graduate this May, Chandler said it was one of the most psychologically challenging moments of her life.
“Really we didn’t know each other very well,” Chandler said. “She had a lot of issues and kind of blamed them on me and it was really rough. It was just really hard taking that on freshman year along with new classes and teachers and social stuff.”
Chandler said she eventually decided to seek advice from a counselor at Prichard Hall on campus. She said talking with her counselor significantly helped her cope with roommate problems.
She said students should utilize campus resources when faced with problems they can’t deal with by themselves, despite what their peers may think.
“There’s always somebody who can help you,” Chandler said. “You might be shy or feel like, ‘I can handle this,’ but it’s better to get help. Everybody needs it from time to time and you shouldn’t be embarrassed of it. If you want to live a healthy life, don’t worry about other people. Do what you need to do to make your life better.”
Chandler said although she had a bad experience with her first new roommate, having roommates has helped her enjoy her time at Marshall overall.
With housing signups opening this month for the fall 2016 semester, many students have been given the opportunity to retain their current rooms or spend their next semester with new roommates.
Derek Genco, residence director of First Year Residence Halls, said in order to avoid a situation like Chandler’s, students need to effectively communicate expectations with each other.
“You’d be surprised how many issues come up because roommates don’t actually talk to each other,” Genco said. “Talking to each other will really make living together much easier. It’ll really help you kind of get to know where they’re coming from when they do the certain things that they do.”
Genco said it is also important to be flexible in dealing with the differences that may exist between a student and his or her roommate.
“Try to find that sweet spot to where both of you will be happy,” Genco said. “This is a whole new adventure, sharing your space, sharing sometimes your things. Coming in you’re like, ‘This is going to be easy,’ but then you realize, ‘Well, there’s not always room for my stuff.’ So really that compromise would be important.”
Junior exercise science major Killian Ellis said he struggled with a past roommate in compromising on cleaning responsibilities.
Ellis said directly talking to his roommate about dividing up responsibilities instead of avoiding the issue would have helped to make his experience much better.
“Instead of brushing it off your shoulders, you should talk about it with them,” Ellis said. “Tell them about what bothers you and try to solve it from there instead of pushing it back, not solving the problem and letting it just build up.”
Sophomore communication disorders major Krista Dickerson said discussing her schedule with her roommate and being considerate of her roommate’s needs helped them to stay friends, despite moving to different rooms later on.
“I think you sort of form a bond with whoever you end up rooming with,” Dickerson said. “We’re not super close anymore, but we still say hi to each other and I wonder how she’s doing.”
Dickerson said students should not be afraid of taking on a new roommate, since doing so might open up the door to a new friendship.
“If anything, it puts you in a different situation and helps you form bonds with people that you wouldn’t otherwise,” Dickerson said.
Genco said if a situation does arise where a student does not get along with his or her roommate, the student should talk to the roommate about problems first, because there may be an easy solution.
If communication does not work, Genco said the student should talk to his or her resident advisor for help mediating the issue.
Genco said if the issue cannot be resolved after mediation, the resident advisor may recommend a room change to the residence director.
Genco said the Department of Housing is willing to do what it can to ensure access to a safe and beneficial residence for all on-campus students.
“The Department of Housing really wants everyone to be comfortable and be successful and we want you to have that happy living environment,” Genco said.
Students can access the fall 2016 housing application online at
Rebecca Turnbull can be contacted at [email protected].