Standing in the cold for four hours was not how now-senior Nolan Elias planned his night to end one day in late October 2013. After being asked to leave his dorm, he spent his night wandering campus trying to find a place to sleep. He managed to contact some friends to help him find a place to stay temporarily.
Elias’ temporary homelessness was the climax of a long story that began in Spring 2012. Elias had applied for block housing — where students can elect to live near a group of four to five students of their choice — with a group of friends. Elias and his roommate were assigned the same room by random selection. The only available space near his friends was a double already occupied by another student. For Elias, living with a stranger was worth being near his friends. However, Elias said his new roommate’s sleeping habits and other personal idiosyncrasies led to conflicts.
Ronald Trunzo, associate director of the Office of Residential Life and associate director of the Office of Judicial Affairs, said roommate conflicts are a common occurrence.
“On average, throughout the year, there are approximately one to three roommate conflicts that an RA must manage on a given floor,” Trunzo said.
Of the conflicts that happen each year, Trunzo said one–third result in room changes.
Linda Koenig, assistant director for housing services and communications for residential life, said in order to be assigned a new room, students must meet with her to discuss where they will live and then submit a waitlist request until a new room becomes available. Koenig said she strongly advises roommates speak with each other to work out differences before speaking with their resident assistant or herself.
“It’s a small campus,” Koenig said. “If you do not get that sense of closure with your roommate, you’ll run into them at some point, and you know, we want to make sure everyone is on good terms.”
Once students have made certain they want a change, Koenig said, she helps them find available rooms and then makes the shift for them on HomerConnect using their housing IDs.
Junior RA Chase Lurgio said roommate changes aren’t always the result of conflicts.
“Schedule conflicts or personality differences are the main reasons people decide to move out,” Lurgio said. “It’s not usually that either side is wrong, just that there are different types of people.”
Junior Gabriella Pakeman said she had initially lived with a roommate she had found through a questionnaire online. After two weeks, they realized they had different habits and methods of handling problems, so they decided to split. After her roommate left, Pakeman said the vacancy was soon filled with a new roommate.
“My second roommate originally wanted a single but could not obtain one for personal reasons, and so she was randomly placed with me,” Pakeman said. “It was all passive aggressive and immature — we just brushed problems under the rug.”
Pakeman said confrontation was the biggest obstacle for her.
“Confrontation was scary — so scary that the merits of it weren’t acknowledged. I was intimidated by the idea of confronting them. I didn’t know if they would react emotionally or impulsively,” Pakeman said.
Freshman Alexis Morillo said her room change was not the result of an issue with her roommate, but rather out of a mutual desire for privacy.
“Coming in as a freshman, you can’t really prepare yourself to have a roommate,” Morillo said. “There are so many things that you overlook in the process of finding different habits you might have that become clear when you’re sharing a space together.”
Morillo and her roommate had difficulty trying to live their lives in accordance with each other’s schedule but otherwise got along. To resolve their issues, they managed to coordinate with their RA and move into two adjacent singles down the hall. Morillo said it only took four days to change rooms at the end of last semester.
“It was definitely a lot easier than I would have anticipated,” Morillo said. “I made sure it was good with everyone, and my roommate was completely understanding. After that, we just went to the RD — sent him a quick email asking where do we go from here, and then we did the whole key switch, and there was maybe like one paper you had to sign.”
After living with his roommate for about two months, Elias said he was uncomfortable with his roommate’s lack of respect for his personal space and he and his roommate could not continue. His roommate, he said, went to the RA before Elias had the opportunity to and allegedly accused Elias of threatening him, which resulted in Elias’ complying with the RA’s request to remove himself from the premises immediately.
“I didn’t find a place to sleep until 4 in the morning,” Elias said. “I kept calling Campus Safety. They eventually came up to me, and they were trying to get hold of the RD on duty. It took between Campus Safety, the RD and my mother to find a place to go.”
Elias said he has not spoken to his roommate since, but he said he has learned from the experience.
“To this day, I still have not confronted him,” Elias said. “I think if I had been a little less blunt, perhaps a bit more eloquent, maybe we could have worked something out a little more peacefully.”