Helpful Hints for Assisting your Student if a Roommate Conflict Arises

Helpful Hints for Assisting your Student if a Roommate Conflict Arises

Many parents tell us that their student is “just not a conflict person” or their student “prefers to avoid conflict.”  Conflict is a natural part of life and we do well to develop skills which help us manage conflict respectfully, advocate for ourselves well, and resolve minor conflicts before they blossom into something much larger.  Our roommate conflict and mediation process is designed to infuse learning these skills into these educational life experiences.

Families are instrumental in providing support and assistance to their student. By listening to your student, you can be a sounding board, providing support and perspective. You can help your student to understand their role in the process and empower them to affect their situation.

  • Assure your student that having a roommate conflict is not a rare occurrence. Living with others requires ongoing communication. Most students are able to resolve conflicts in a way that meets everyone’s needs.
  • Listen to your student as they explain the conflict; ask if it could be a misunderstanding rather than an intentional dispute.
  • Find out if your student completed a roommate agreement, and whether or not they have reviewed it lately. (All new students are required to complete a roommate agreement within the first three weeks of the semester. This is meant to be a living document that changes and evolves as students learn more about their roommates and themselves).
  • Ask whether they have sat down and had a heart to heart talk with their roommate. Students often think they have communicated their feelings without having actually expressed them.
  • Don’t be afraid to question whether your student may have had a role in creating the conflict. Let them know you are not criticizing only suggesting a little self-examination. Remind them that every conflict has more than one side. Encourage them to consider why their roommate might see the situation from a different point of view.
  • Ask if they have contacted their RA to request roommate mediation. RAs are trained in conflict mediation, and we generally find that an unbiased third party can help students come up with solutions that they may not have discovered on their own. In more challenging situations, a series of mediations may be necessary. Please encourage your student to communicate with the RA if they feel that further intervention is needed.
  • If your student is looking for additional information regarding roommate communication, please refer them to this page or refer them to their Residence Life Coordinator.

Please understand that roommate conflicts and room changes are not addressed by the Director of Student Affairs or the Director/Assistant Director of Residence Life.  It is also important to note that the College expects students, not parents, to work through the roommate mediation process.