Roommates are an important part of the residence hall experience. Most roommate relationships evolve successfully over time, especially when roommates demonstrate mutual respect 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 & Development helps every set of roommates and suitemates complete a required 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.
Roommate requests are honored whenever possible. Roommates must each request the other person on their Housing Agreement. Each roommate's name and student ID number must be indicated on the Agreement.
Requests that are not mutual cannot be honored.
The sooner your application and your roommate(s)' applications are received, the better your chances of rooming together. Please remember it is not always possible to hold a space for a requested roommate whose application has not been received.
Selecting a roommate
Should you live with someone you 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 first large assignment mailing for fall term will be sent to your UC email account. Check our calendar for the general timeline. Thereafter, assignment letters are mailed out as soon as assignments are made.
If your room is assigned before your roommate(s) is/are assigned, you will receive a second email notice when your roommate assignment is made. You will also receive an email should any other change become necessary.
After June 30th, if you think you should have received an assignment letter but haven't, please call the HFS office at 513-556-6461 or email us at UChousing@uc.edu.
First, it’s important to note that most roommate relationships are successful (even if the immediate reaction to one another is anxiety). Going into the situation with an open mind and an optimistic attitude can make a big difference.
Second, there is usually an “open room change or swap” period each term, generally beginning in the third or fourth week of the term and lasting about four weeks, space permitting. The open room change period may be suspended for all students, students of one gender or the other, or for particular halls if there are not enough vacant spaces, if there are students still living in “overflow” temporary assignments, or for other special circumstances. When open room change does occur, students apply to the hall(s) where they would like to live. Community Coordinators (CCs) notify all applicants of the approval or denial of their request in writing.
Third, outside of open room change time, room changes are viewed as a last resort. Managing conflict, compromising, and adapting to situations are important skills for students to develop. CCs have the ability to make administrative changes for emergency circumstances or in circumstances where all parties have made a legitimate effort to build a successful relationship and no other reasonable resolution can be identified. Room changes are only granted in response to behavioral situations, not on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, ability or other dimensions of diversity.
Finally, if you have any roommate-related issues, the first person to discuss them with is your roommate. Open, respectful communication goes a long way to resolving most problems. After that, the first resource is the floor’s Resident Advisor (RA), the peer leader. They will assist by mediating the conflict, and often by re-negotiating the roommate agreement. If those measures prove unsuccessful, the next step is to meet with the CC of the hall for additional help.