Two roommates study in their Kirby House room.This semester, don’t let roommate stress be one of the things weighing on your mind. There’s plenty of other things to stress about! There are some conversations you should have with your roomie as soon as possible.

  • Make sure you all know the campus regulations surrounding COVID-19. It is extremely important to be on the same page about how you plan to navigate the semester. At times, student guests from outside your housing will be prohibited or limited. Non-student visitors won’t be permitted in the building at all. Even if someone enters your space because your roommate invited them, you can be held accountable for this infraction if the current policies on campus prohibit visiting other housing areas. Lafayette’s Healthy Campus site will help you understand some of the regulations while living on campus.
  • Talk through each other’s class schedules, and make sure you are comfortable with how you will be holding your remote sessions. What are you going to do if both of you have a class at the same time? What if one of you has early class meetings on Zoom while the other plans to be getting ready for the day? Make sure you have the resources you need such as headphones and a proper amount of space to do your work.
  • Take into consideration your roommate’s perspective and situation. What does Lafayette mean to you and your roommate? Some people may have the opportunity to go home with access to Wi-Fi, a supportive family, and the proper resources to succeed in class, but not everyone does. Try to engage in a productive conversation to help each other know the importance of what living on campus means to each of you.
  • Who is going to be a part of your circle of unique contacts? This is not the semester to go out and frequently meet handfuls of new people—it is important to stick to a few people to try and mitigate as much risk as possible. Everyone whom you hang out with also by extension will be hanging out with your roommate, so try to stick to friends who are making smart social decisions.
  • You likely have some pent-up social energy. Talk to your roommate about how you would like to safely have social interactions. Maybe you could get your hallway together for a distanced hangout. On nicer days, meeting up outdoors might work well. There also will be plenty of virtual events happening throughout the semester to keep you occupied. How much risk are you comfortable with your roommate taking knowing that it directly impacts you? What about the risk tolerance of neighbors and floormates with whom you might share a bathroom, lounge, or hallway?
  • How do you plan to navigate midterms and exam season? What study habits should your roommate be aware of and how can you support each other in excelling academically?
  • Keep in mind your RA is a helpful resource if you and your roommate find yourselves in a difficult situation that you need help handling. The Counseling Center also is available to help calm some of the anxieties of living with a roommate, which are totally normal even in a school year where we are not worried about COVID-19.
  • You should also take a look at ResLife’s digital roommate agreement. This is mandatory for first-year students and highly recommended for upperclassmen so that everyone knows how to prepare for the upcoming semester.

Above all, try to have empathy for your peers. We are living through unprecedented times, and it is OK to take time to learn how to live with new people. College is a time to learn and grow, and sometimes that comes with a few difficult conversations along the way.

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