Leeroy the Mascot studying on a dorm room bed.
Living with Your “New” Roommates
Residential Life coordinators offers advice for settling in with roommates, new or old, during the coronavirus pandemic
Friday, April 17, 2020

As we settle into the new reality of remote synchronous learning, we are sure to encounter some common issues: navigating technology, trying to maintain social connection, and staying motivated. Many of us are also learning to live with new, round-the-clock roommates. These may be actual roommates, parents, siblings, extended family, partners, or even pets. In Residential Life, we know what makes for successful roommate relationships… and what can tear them apart. So, whether you’re a student, parent, or guardian, here are some tips for sharing your space nearly 24 hours a day.

  • Set expectations up-front. It might seem a little late for this, but we likely have more time ahead of us than behind us. Have an open and honest conversation where all roommates can share their expectations for living together, and keep that dialogue open. For example, students may need to emphasize that coursework will continue to be their main priority—even though they wish they could hang out with the family.
  • Communicate early and often. 99 percent of roommate conflicts are about a lack of communication. Consider this classic: Johnny’s upset that Steve keeps eating his food without asking, but never talks to Steve about it. That is, until midterms arrive and Steve drinks Johnny’s last Red Bull. That’s the last straw. Johnny blows up at Steve, Steve is completely blindsided, and both want to switch rooms. This isn’t really about Red Bull. This is about communication, and early communication could have prevented this tragedy.
  • Take time for yourself. Even roommates who are best friends know that passing hours on end together every day can lead to undue tension. Spending time alone and connecting with others outside of your home—even if you are not doing so physically—is a great way to maintain your relationships with those inside your home.
  • Share household responsibilities. In Residential Life, we encourage students to take responsibility for their physical space and divide chores with their roommate. For students who returned home, now is not the time to start relying on your parents and other housemates to complete these tasks. Instead, continue doing your own dishes and laundry as you did when you lived on campus; take the adulting skills you've gained from living independently and put them to use!

Bonus Tips:

In Residential Life, we pride ourselves in helping students make Trinity feel like home. Now, we want to offer some advice to help home feel more like Trinity!

  • No fountain? No problem. Your new roommates will love it if you dunk them in the bathtub to celebrate their birthday. Especially the cat.
  • Pro tip: use pots and pans to simulate the chimes of the Murchison Tower every 15 minutes. Your roommates will thank you for bringing this familiar sound to them and reminding them to log into class on time.
  • You may find it odd to be in class without having broken a sweat climbing Cardio Hill. To recreate that Cardio Hill glow and breathlessness, try doing 47 step-ups on your desk chair before logging into Zoom.

Marqiece Cunningham, Taryn Tipton, and Nathan Tuttle contributed to this article.


This article is part of a series aimed to help students, faculty, and staff manage distance learning, working, and living during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on Residential Life, visit gotu.us/covid19.

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