Roommate Success Guide
You will receive your housing contract via e-mail late in July. All first-year students are required to live in the residence halls, except those who live with their parents or spouse, or those who are at least 21 years of age. All second year students are required to live on campus as well, except those live with their parents or spouse, those who are at least 21 years of age, or those who have received an exemption from the housing requirement to live in a fraternity house. Other exceptions to this will be considered by the Campus Services Center upon receipt of a written request.
Once you have completed your housing contract, the Campus Services Center will assign you a room and a roommate(s). When you receive your roommate's name, address, and phone number please contact him or her and begin to talk about what items each of you are bringing so you can make best use of the space in your room.
One question you should consider as you complete your housing contract is: Should I live with someone who I already know? While there is no correct answer to that question, if you choose to live with someone who is already a friend or acquaintance, please keep in mind the following:
- Knowing someone and living with someone is not the same thing. A roommate relationship is different from a friendship. Thus, if you choose to room with someone you already know, it is even more important for you to talk about the items on the Roommate Agreement form you and your roommate will complete at the very beginning of your roommate relationship.
- One of the benefits of living in a residence hall is the opportunity to meet and live with people who are different than you. If living with someone who you know is convenient because you perceive he or she is “just like you”, perhaps you should reconsider living with the person you know.
- If you choose to live with someone you know, your living learning community preferences must be the same in order for you to live together and each of you must preference each other on your housing contracts or you will not be placed together.
- If you and your friend/acquaintance initially have independently chosen different living learning communities, perhaps not living together is a better option, as those with similar interests – as indicated by living learning community preferences – are more likely to get along as roommates.
- By not living together, students who already know each other are able to widen their circle of friends by meeting roommates of those you already know.
- Do not begin the building of your roommate relationship believing you will be best friends for life. Roommates who do become lifelong friends do so when the initial plan is to be friendly, willing to compromise when necessary, have open communication, and are honest with one another. When that happens, then roommate relationships become lasting friendships.
Roommate Bill of Rights
The following Roommate Bill of Rights, adapted from Kent State University, is a reminder to each resident that the enjoyment of life in a residence hall will depend, to a large extent, on the thoughtful consideration demonstrated by roommates.
Remember: To be a mature adult is to accept responsibility for the welfare of oneself and others. It is incumbent upon all students to be familiar with the policies and regulations of Miami University and their impact within the residence halls. Ignorance of University and residence hall policies cannot be accepted as an excuse, and students are expected to read and know the information in the Code of Student Conduct, Regulations for On-Campus Living, and The Student Handbook. If you have any questions about these policies, please contact a residence hall staff member. Students may be held accountable for actions that are either intentional or negligent. In order to be a responsible community member, students must understand the impact of their actions and not just the intent.
Basic rights of a roommate include:
- The right to read and study free from undue interference in one's room. Unreasonable noise and other distractions inhibit the exercise of this right.
- The right to sleep without undue disturbance from noise, guests of roommate(s), etc.
- The right to expect that a roommate will respect one's personal belongings.
- The right to a clean environment.
- The right to free access to one's room and facilities without pressure from the roommate.
- The right to privacy, including the right to exclude non-residents of the room from the room.
- The right to address grievances.
- The right to be free from fear of intimidation and physical or emotional harm.
- The right to expect reasonable cooperation and the use of "room shared" appliances (refrigerator, fan, etc.).
- The right to seek help with the roommate relationship from Office of Residence Life staff.
Positive Roommate Relations
Having a positive relationship with your roommate depends on each of you trying to make an honest attempt to get know the other. When students are placed in a residence hall they must prepare for this new experience with an open mind and an appreciation for those differences that exist in each person’s background. The following information is designed to assist you in practicing the important communication skills of careful listening, open and honest feedback, and reaching a mutually agreed upon living arrangement.
Part I: About My Background
During the first couple of days at Miami, sit down with your roommate and begin to get to know each other. Even if you’ve been friends before coming to school, it is important to start getting to know each other as roommates. If you’ve just met your roommate it can be difficult to begin sharing, but start with the basics.
Some suggested topics for “breaking the ice”:
- Discuss your family backgrounds and hometowns
- Share your reasons for choosing Miami University
- Describe your neighborhood, your high school friends and your best friends
- Explain your hobbies, interests and activities
- Answer the questions: what will you miss most while being away from home? What will you miss least?
Part II: Personal Preferences
Once you have covered the basics about each other, you are ready to move into more serious areas of concern for roommates. Living in the same room does not mean that you must do everything together nor will you necessarily be the best of friends, but you do have to develop the ability to communicate with each other and adapt to each other’s lifestyle. Discuss the following questions with each other.
Roommate Preference Questionnaire
- Discuss your sleeping habits (i.e., weekdays, weekend, etc.).
- Discuss what kind of sense of humor you have (e.g., silly, sarcastic, etc.).
- What time do you typically come home by? (e.g., before midnight, after midnight, 2:00 am) Discuss how to handle late nights and evenings.
- Discuss issues about the noise level in the room (e.g., TV, radio, studying, sleeping, etc.).
- How much TV do you watch and what kinds of shows do you like to watch?
- Does it bother you if your roommate watches TV when you are in the room? (Give examples when it would/would not be okay).
- Discuss what state you like the room to be in (e.g., very neat, messy, etc.)
- What kind of music do you listen to? Are there any types of music that you dislike?
- Where do you like to study?
- What belongings of yours are you willing to share? If so, what are the ground rules?
- How do you feel about the use of drugs/alcohol?
- Do you smoke? (Keep in mind, residents cannot smoke in the residence halls.)
- What are your spiritual or religious values?
- What are some of your habits that a roommate might need to know?>
- What guidelines should be set for guests in the room? Under what circumstances can someone else stay in the room? Does this conflict with the University’s overnight guest policy?
Part III: My Emotional Style
How you experience and express your feelings has a lot to do with how easy you are to get along with. Roommates who enjoy living with each other typically “read” each other’s feelings fairly accurately, and respond with empathy. By sharing some information about your emotional style, you may make understanding and responding to each other easier.
Discuss the following issues:
- When I am upset about something I usually…
- Something that will usually cheer me up…
- When things are going really well I’m usually…
- I would prefer to be left alone when…
- When do you need time alone?
- How will you let me know when you need time alone?
- You’ll know when I’m angry because I usually…
- What makes you angry?
- How will you let me know when you are angry?
- I get tense or uptight when…
- What makes you tense or uptight?
- How will you let me know when you are tense or uptight?
- You’ll know I am tense/stressed because I usually…
- How will you let me know when you are tense/stressed?
- Something that is likely to annoy me is…
- How will you let me know what annoys you?
- We will communicate feelings or frustrations by…
- To me, relaxing is…
Part IV: My Impressions/Reactions
The quality of roommate relationships is related to the communication between roommates. Positive relations have been shown to be typified by roommates more clearly understanding each others' expectations, more openly communicating with each other, and their ability to verbalize to each other thoughts and feelings about one another. During all of your discussions with your roommate, listen carefully. Try to be unconditionally accepting of what you hear even though you may disagree. When you are accepting, your roommate will feel free to express things honestly.
Try to follow these guidelines:
- Be willing to listen and speak openly.
- Try to understand rather than evaluate or judge.
- Be receptive to different ways of life and different values.
- Be willing to make compromises.
- Spend time getting acquainted.
- Be aware of assumptions and try to get the facts.
Living with a roommate while ill is definitely a new experience. Having conversations on the following topics early can reduce issues later.
- Shared goals. What are our goals for staying healthy and looking out for one another? How well do our individual goals align?
- Going out. How often do we plan to visit bars / restaurants / social gatherings? What can we agree is safest for these outings?
- Hygiene. How committed are we to practicing good hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer?
- What ifs. What will we do if someone feels sick? If off campus and someone tests positive, what is our plan for isolation? If Miami has to go remote earlier in the semester, what are our plans?
- Distancing. How diligent are we at practicing physical distance with others? What about with each other?
- Guests/visitors. What is our guest policy? Will guests be allowed? Who and for how long? Will there be any restrictions? Reminder: no overnight guests are allowed in the residence halls
- Cleaning. What is our plan for routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (ie: tables, knobs, handles, light switches, etc.)? Who will be responsible for what?
- Masks. What is our plan for face coverings / mask wearing. What is our level of commitment to wearing them regularly and correctly? Reminder: face coverings are always required on campus, except for in residence hall rooms.
Roommate Conflict Resolution
When differences arise, try talking out issues while using the communication skills that help most—be open and honest, listen closely, and be specific.
Use the Roommate Agreement Form (see below), reevaluate your living situation, and change the ground rules. You will both change throughout the year, which means that this document should change as well.
However, if difficulties do arise in your roommate relationship, there are people and resources on campus available to assist you:
- Talk with a residence life staff member in your corridor or another staff member in the building.
- Seek assistance from your Resident Director.
- If you still have a need for further assistance, contact the Office of Residence Life at (513) 529-4000.
Most roommates can work out mutually agreeable relationships with their roommates. When roommates have conflicts, the Office of Residence Life staff can help resolve the conflict through mediation or room-change requests. When students are unable to amicably resolve conflicts on their own, the residence life staff may assert more control over finding a resolution. The staff may require the roommates to participate in a conflict resolution meeting, or staff may make a determination without the input of the residents as to how to resolve the conflict. As stated in the housing contract, the University may relocate any student to another room to resolve a conflict.
Roommate Agreement Form
Roommate Agreement Forms are designed to help roommates get to know each other and to start opening the lines of communication on topics that we know are important for successful roommate relationships.
The Roommate Agreement is completed online. All occupants of the room agree to the agreement.
This agreement may be revised at any time. Residents are encouraged to revisit this agreement after the first month of the semester.