"People will say a lot of things on Facebook or through texting and Twitter, but they're not comfortable having a rational conversation face-to-face, so we try to talk to students about how to do that," Andrews says.
3. Keep outsiders out of the conversation: "The thing that puts the most strain on a roommate relationship is bringing other people into the dynamic that don't need to be there," DePauw's Wippich says.
Roommate conversations often deal with personal subjects, and things can get emotional quickly. Wippich says that even when your intentions are good, involving friends can leave one roommate feeling attacked or bullied.
"Be mindful how you're using other people as support or as sounding board and how they can be involved," she says.
4. If you live on campus, consult your resident assistant: "RAs are really skilled at navigating and embracing the awkward that comes with some of those roommate disagreement conversations. They're really skilled at mediating them, asking the questions and helping students understand that sometimes it takes a little time to navigate a difficult dialogue with someone but the time is worth it in the end," Wippich says.
If a roommate situation is particularly bad, most campuses have resident life staff who can evaluate complaints on a case-by-case basis and help students make the best choice for them, even if that means switching rooms or taking other action.
"Ultimately they're here at the institution to pursue their academic interest and get a degree and, fundamentally, that's what we as resident life staff are here for – to help them get that degree – so anything that we can do to help and assist is in our best interest and theirs as well." Hunter says.
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