Everyday living in a residence hall community varies from individual to individual and sometimes means looking at situations and people through different lenses. Resident Education & Development provides you with a wealth of resources to manage roommate situations, offer safety awareness, inform you about policies, and much more. Take some time to explore this page to make your on-campus community life the best it can be.
Roommates are an important part of the residence hall experience. Most roommate relationships evolve successfully over time, especially when roommates demonstrate mutual respect and maturity in working out differences and communicate directly and honestly. While it’s normal to have some anxiety about living together in new circumstances, it’s important to keep in mind that roommate relationships can be very rewarding and are a great opportunity for learning about oneself and others.
The staff in Resident Education and Development helps every set of roommates and suitemates with the required completion of a written roommate agreement. All roommates have rights and are responsible for respecting each other’s rights. In the event of a vacancy in a room, a new roommate may be assigned at any time. All residents in that room are responsible for maintaining that vacancy so that it is available to an incoming roommate at any time. All residents are also responsible for accepting and welcoming newly assigned roommates appropriately.
Resident Education and Development (RED) staff will work with each set of roommates to develop a roommate agreement, a set of written guidelines about how that room will function.
Development of an effective agreement requires honest sharing of feelings and preferences, careful listening, and willingness to compromise on the part of all roommates.
Roommate agreement content varies, depending on the hall to which one is assigned. Despite some variation, however, all roommate agreements should address at least the following elements:
- Hours for sleep, study, and socializing in the room
- Standards of cleanliness and neatness
- Division of space
- Decoration of the room
- Division of responsibility for chores (trash, dishes, etc.)
- Etiquette regarding visitors
- Etiquette regarding telephone use and messages
- Use of others’ property (clothes, food, supplies, etc.)
- Use of alcohol (if applicable)
- Expectations for addressing concerns, conflicts, or failure to abide by the agreement
Each set of roommates is required to complete an agreement at the start of the year with the assistance and participation of the resident advisor (RA). A new agreement may be re-negotiated at any time for any reason, and one must be completed (from scratch) each time a new roommate is assigned to the room.
Failure to participate in the roommate agreement process in a timely manner may result in referral to the judicial process.
- The right to read, study, and sleep free from undue disturbance by roommates and guests, and the responsibility to afford the same courtesy to one’s roommates.
- The right to expect that one’s personal property will be respected and that reasonable security of one’s room will be maintained, and the responsibility to afford such respect and security to one’s roommates.
- The right to a reasonably clean environment and the responsibility to do one’s fair share in maintaining such an environment.
- The right to free access to one’s room and the responsibility to afford the same courtesy to one’s roommates.
- The right to a reasonable level of personal privacy and the responsibility to respect roommates’ privacy.
- The right to host guests in accordance with residence hall rules and regulations and the responsibility to ensure that one’s guests and oneself demonstrate respect and courtesy for roommates.
- The right to expect that residence hall rules and regulations will be followed in the room such that no person is put at risk of harm and the responsibilities to follow rules oneself and report violations appropriately.
- The right to be free from pressure, intimidation, physical or emotional harm, and behavior that demeans or disrespects one’s identity and the responsibility to not to engage in any such behavior toward others.
- The right to address grievances and needs constructively, privately or with the assistance of hall staff, and the responsibility to participate in norm-setting or conflict resolution measures whenever necessary.
- The right to expect compromise in the negotiation of standards and the settling of conflicts and the responsibility to demonstrate compromise.
- The right to timely, respectful communication of any concerns and the responsibility to respond in an open, approachable manner.
- The right to experience and to appropriately articulate one’s feelings when desired and the responsibility to respect others’ feelings.
- The right to make mistakes and the responsibilities to be honest about those mistakes and to work to learn from them.
- Have realistic expectations. It isn’t necessary to be best friends in order to have a comfortable roommate relationship.
- Approach sharing a room and building a roommate relationship with an open mind.
- When something bothers you, speak up to your roommate(s) about it calmly and privately. Don’t let annoyances accumulate.
- "Check in" occasionally to see how the relationship is going from your roommate’s perspective. Ask what you can to do be a better roommate.
- Don’t assume that you and your roommate were raised with similar expectations or habits. Be prepared for residence hall life to be a little different.
- Listen openly and carefully to your roommate.
- Be willing to compromise.
- Demonstrate courtesy toward your roommates (and their guests) consistently.
- If you need help or support in managing a disagreement, bring in your RA instead of other parties. Encourage neighbors, friends and family members to stay out of a conflict that does not involve them so that the situation doesn't escalate unnecessarily.
- Acknowledge that conflict management is an on-going process. Be patient. Like any other relationship, roommate relationships require continuing care, attention, and effort on everyone’s part.
Should I live with someone I already know or be assigned randomly? Each arrangement has its own pro and con arguments.
Selecting a Friend or Classmate
- You may feel more comfortable initially moving in with someone you know.
- Being friends already can ease the logistics of arranging who will bring items and what you will share.
- Being friends and living together are two different things. Your friendship may actually make it more difficult to bring up concerns when you’re bothered.
- Being roommates may put your friendship at risk.
- If your roommate relationship goes well, then you have one good friendship.
Being assigned randomly
- You may be uneasy about moving in with someone who is a stranger to you.
- Starting out as strangers gives you an opportunity to build a new relationship from the start - a clean slate free of assumptions.
- If your roommate relationship goes well, then you have a good roommate relationship AND a separate good friendship with another person.
- If your roommate relationship is very challenging, then you have a challenging relationship, BUT you still have a separate good friendship with another person.
The safety and security of residence hall communities is a shared responsibility between the residents of the halls and the buildings' staff members. Students and their guests are expected to comply with all policies, especially those designed to enhance the safety of the community.
For specific information on fire, weather, and other emergency procedures in each hall community, please consult the staff and front desk.
Protecting Yourself & Your Property
- Keep your room door locked whenever you are out of the room, sleeping, or otherwise unable to pay attention to what might be going on in the room.
- Don’t allow unknown persons to follow you into the building; don’t check in people who aren’t legitimately your guests. If you check in someone, you are assuming responsibility for their actions.
- Lock up items that are particularly valuable, such as credit cards, cash, laptops, jewelry, and so forth. Don’t keep large amounts of cash on hand.
- Engrave valuables with an ID number and keep a record of serial numbers.
- Protect personal information such as ID numbers, bank account records, and phone numbers.
- Report suspicious people or activities to the hall staff or to the University Police at 556-1111. Anonymous tips can be reported to 556-2677 (6-COPS).
- Familiarize yourself with the locations of all stairwells for fire evacuation. Don’t tamper with any of the smoke detectors, sprinkler heads, extinguishers, or other safety equipment.
- Familiarize yourself with your hall’s designated shelter locations for severe weather.
- Travel in pairs or groups, especially at night.
- Avoid unlawful or excessive use of alcohol or other drugs. These impair judgment and leave you more vulnerable to harm or manipulation.
- For more information, consult Public Safety or your residence coordinator (RC), assistant residence coordinator (ARC), or resident advisor (RA).
If Your Room Smoke Detector Sounds
If your room smoke detector sounds and there is no evidence of smoke or fire, notify the front desk of your hall for assistance in resetting the detector. Sometimes detectors can be activated by nearby steam, hairspray, or other airborne substances.
If There is a Fire in Your Room
Activate the nearest pull station and call 911.
It may be possible to extinguish a very small fire in a microwave or trashcan by smothering it with a pan lid on non-flammable substance like baking soda or water (do not use water on an electrical or stovetop fire). If there is an extinguisher nearby, use it only if you have been trained to do so.
Every fire, even if extinguished easily, must be reported to Public Safety.
If the fire is too big to put out with a single extinguisher or if you have any doubts about your ability to put it out, leave your room, closing the door behind you.
Report the fire’s location to emergency personnel in the lobby as you leave the hall.
Fire Prevention and Fire Safety Tips
- Follow policies regarding smoking, room decorations and prohibited appliances.
- Use power strips in place of extension cords and don’t overload circuits.
- Keep your room smoke detectors clear of any foreign objects and do not tamper with any detectors or sprinkler heads.
- When cooking food or using any heat-generating appliance, stay with the items; do not leave them unattended.
- Your RA will review specific fire safety and evacuation procedures for your hall at the first floor meeting.
Our residence halls include smoke detectors and sprinkler heads in student rooms, smoke detectors and sprinkler heads in every common area, and extinguishers in common areas of the halls. Our alarm systems (and you) will generally be tested with regular drills, but you should assume any and every fire alarm is real.
Familiarize yourself with the locations of pull stations, extinguishers, and areas of rescue assistance (if applicable) in your hall. Rooms are entered monthly by the Public Safety staff for inspection of fire safety equipment and code compliance.
Evacuating From Your Room or Suite
In the event of any general fire alarm, evacuation is required.
- When a general alarm sounds, quickly get a coat, shoes, and your keys and ID.
- Look through the viewer of your room door to check the hall for smoke or fire.
- Feel your room door with the back of your hand.
- If the door is cool and you do not see any smoke or fire in the area, exit your room, lock your door, and leave the building using the nearest stairwell.
- Never use elevators in a fire alarm.
- Proceed directly outside.
- There is no guest check-out conducted during fire alarms; guests and hosts undergo a re-check upon re-entry following the alarm.
Always evacuate for every fire alarm. Failing to evacuate or hiding is very dangerous, as a fire may not always be evident. In addition, staff will check all rooms after a fire alarm has ended to assure compliance. Failing to evacuate may result in criminal and judicial charges and only forces your neighbors to stand outside even longer.
If Unable to Evacuate
If you are unable to evacuate your room because of smoke or fire in the hallway, follow these steps.
- Close your room door.
- Call 911 and report your location.
- Follow any instructions from the dispatcher.
- Otherwise, stay in the room and low to the ground, where air is fresher.
- Block the gap under your door and vents with wet towels or other cloth.
- Open your room drapes or blinds.
- If you are on the ground floor, evacuate through the window.
- If you are on any other floor, hang an item like a sheet or towel from your window to draw attention to yourself and wait for further assistance from the fire department.
- In Campus Rec Center Hall, you should evacuate to the nearest area of rescue assistance, typically marked on a stairwell landing. You should familiarize yourself with these locations in advance.