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Navigating the roommate process

Thunder+Hill+Residence+Hall+in+the+early+evening.
Kayla Masterman
Thunder Hill Residence Hall in the early evening.

Every August freshmen leave their hometowns to embark on the pursuit of higher education. Armored with accolades, advanced placement credit or an abundance of App State sports apparel they are psyched up to conquer freshman year —- or at least survive month one. 

Undoubtedly, schooling beyond the classroom will take place in that first month in the form of navigating living styles in the dorm, roughly the size of a one-car garage, where students may bunk across from a stranger, their first year roommate. 

However, freshmen are not left alone to handle inevitable roommate conflicts as resident assistants employed by the university are ready to aid residents. 

You should always feel comfortable contacting your Resident Assistant (RA) for advice or to mediate a conversation between your roommate and yourself,” says the University Housing website.

Will Stephenson, a senior English major and former resident assistant, stressed keeping lines of communication open with your RA. He wants residents to feel comfortable and welcome at App State. 

Stephenson said RAs remain at the front line, ready to handle roommate conflict, act as intermediaries and handle roommate transfer requests.  

“You want your residents to get along well and be friends and avoid conflict,” Stephenson said. “Which means occasionally people need room changes and mediation.”

Roommate change requests are considered as long as housing options remain available.  

Stephenson said he only fielded a few actual roommate room change requests, and additionally piloted half a dozen conversations involving differing levels of roommate conflict. 

“Don’t get discouraged if you and your roomate aren’t BFF material,” Stephenson said. “That’s a bit of a tall ask in the first place, there is something awesome about just getting along with one another but also having separate lives. Sometimes that’s the least complicated housing arrangement.” 

Senior graphic design student Julia Johnson shared a similar sentiment. Initially, she clicked with her freshman year roommate. 

“I really liked her, we really clicked, it was fun,” Johnson said.

Johnson said after their first formal roommate discussion, made up of minimal communication between roommates, she discovered silence would characterize her roommate experience which at the start felt “really odd,” but would become normative over the semester.  

Reflecting on her experience interacting with her roommate, Johnson additionally explained there were no major issues, rather a hard environment. She did not ever request a roommate change. 

“Because by the time that it actually became an issue, I had another semester left, and I was like you know what,” Johnson said. “It was not worth trying to go through all this and then moving my stuff out. So I just decided that I was gonna deal with it.”

Johnson said University Housing did “as good a job as they could,” pairing her by asking questions through the University Housing Portal pertaining to sleep schedules and cleanliness. 

“That was what helped me match up with the right person,” Johnson said. “Everything else can’t be helped if you get a bad roommate or not.”  

When determining housing placements, Brandon Nelson, director of University Housing said the university takes into consideration five factors: student year, gender, application questions, room preference and new this year, an option for students to choose their space. 

Three weeks into classes, after students have settled into campus life and allowed for space to determine whether their roommate has upheld their end of the required Roommate Agreement, students may request a roommate change. Roommate change requests are considered as long as housing options remain available.

The agreement highlights the importance of communication through the acronym YOSEF: Your Opinions, Openness, Self-Awareness, Engage and Focus on Respect. 

Living with a roommate involves honestly communicating norms and expectations, coupled with an awareness of varying lifestyles. 

The document issued by the university is intended to serve as a guide, rather than binding agreement, aimed at helping to initiate healthy conflict resolution. Expressing similar thoughts, Stephenson placed a similar emphasis on interpersonal communication. 

“Freshmen, you silly little geese. Just be upfront and talk to your roommate if you have conflict,” Stephenson said. “I know that’s easier said than done, but 99% of the time that’s the easiest solution to your problems with each other.”

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About the Contributors
Georgia Dixon
Georgia Dixon, Reporter
Georgia Dixon (she/her) is a sophomore journalism major and psychology minor from Charlotte, NC. This is her first year with The Appalachian.
Max Correa
Max Correa, Photojournalist
Max Correa (he/him) is a senior Biochemistry major from Black Mountain, NC.
Kayla Masterman
Kayla Masterman, Distribution Manager
Kayla Masterman (she/her) is a sophomore journalism major and English minor. This is her second year with the Appalachian.
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