Top 10 Ways to Resolve Roommate Conflict

Despite our age and experience, living with someone is never easy.  Take it from Jonathan and Caleb who are new roommates on campus. Having previously had their own bedrooms in their old home, learning to share a room has brought its challenges. So, having recently moved in together, I thought I’d ask them their advice.  Here are Jonathan and Caleb’s “Top 10 Ways to Resolve Roommate Conflict”:

  1. Give them flowers
  2. Be kind
  3. Have an R.A. give them a “reminder”.
  4. Tell your teacher if someone is being mean
  5. Say “I’m sorry”
  6. Have some alone time
  7. Don’t take the other person’s things
  8. Sing them a song
  9. Ask if they are okay
  10. Fold your clothes a lot

The thing is, they’re right. They might use different words to describe their points of view, but it might do us adults some good to evaluate our “mature” perspectives and heed some advice.  Whether you are currently experiencing a conflict with a roommate or getting ahead of the game by learning what you can before you move in, here are a few takeaways from the list above:

  • Reach out. It is normal and okay to have tension and conflict with another person when you live so closely. But before you make up your mind that you are the one who has been wronged, ask some questions. Reach out to the other with a desire to understand where they are coming from. That doesn’t mean you have to agree, but it does mean you need keep an open mind that if two people are living in a space there is potential that there could be two sides of the story.  Whether this is in the form of “asking if they are okay”, or “saying I’m sorry”, reach out before you close in.
  • Take care of your space and your things. Whether you are living in a resident hall, a cottage or own your own home, a living space has more to offer when you take care of it. Maybe your roommate prefers things clean and you like things messy. And maybe you wish you could just live how you want to live. But regardless, when given something like a place of your own to live, it grows character when we respect it and take care of it. So for the sake of developing responsibility AND honoring the person who shares your space- “fold your clothes a lot”, wash your dishes, “don’t take other people’s things”.
  • Do something nice.  No one has ever said you have to be best friends with your roommate, but you can alway be a friend TO your roommate. Even if tension is flying in the air, you have the ability to access creativity and offer a kind gesture.  So maybe “singing a song” is way out of your comfort zone and “buying flowers” feels more romantic than you’d like, but could you offer an invitation to share a lunch? Or offer to clean their cereal bowl, or hold the door for them when you exit the building? Small things can go a long way.
  • Ask for help. Your experience here at Hope College matters.  And YOU matter. So if you are unsure of how to handle a situation, or if you feel unsafe, not only can you “tell a teacher if someone is being mean”, but you can lean into the support systems surrounding you. Inform a Resident Assistant or a Resident Director or seek counsel from the Counseling Center and other various resources on campus.

Like so many other aspects of your life on campus here at Hope College, having a roommate is an opportunity to learn and grow. Whether you knew nothing about your roommate before you arrived and now you have a new best friend, or you were best friends when you got here and it’s just not working how you thought it would, there is an invitation in the experience itself, to learn about yourself and about building relationships.  But if you’re not sure how to figure out what that invitation is, feel free to stop by Gilmore Hall and ask Jonathan and Caleb- I’m sure they’d have some advice.


College is Hard, But Your Chair Doesn’t Have to Be: Comfortable Study Spots

By Aine O’Connor, Neighborhood Coordinator

Are you and your friends searching for new study spaces? Getting tired of your desk, Science Center study rooms, and library tables? As midterms and finals creep closer, where will you go if (gasp) your favorite spot gets taken? Here are ten study spots to shake up your routine and find new motivation. Happy homeworking!

On Campus

Cozy Chairs in Lubbers:

If you just want to curl up and read a good book for your English class, Lubbers is the way to go. Each floor has at least four super cozy chairs to work on. Pro tip: On the weekends, you can oftentimes drag two chairs together to make a megacouch. Just be careful not to fall asleep!

Phelps Dining:

Many freshmen think that going to lunch or dinner alone is embarrassing or lonely, but it can sometimes be the best time to study! Go over to the fireplace side and grab a small table or a booth (some even have outlets close by). If you look around, I promise you won’t be the only one!

Rare Books Room at Van Wylen:

Do you want to feel like you’re actually at Hogwarts, even when you’re doing Physics II? Head down to the Rare Books Room in the basement of Van Wylen Library. There are hundreds of old hymnals, books in Dutch, and interesting stories to browse when you get bored.

Martha Miller Rotundas:

These spaces are open to you all day! The rotundas offer great views of downtown Holland and have the best beanbags on campus. Go to the first floor for a meeting or the second floor for some quiet study time.

Res Hall Lounges/Hallways:

People automatically think of the study rooms as the place to go, but sometimes your res hall’s lounge can be perfect. In Van Vleck, where I used to live, we used our hallways! Chat while you work, meet up to write together, or escape your roommate’s snoring at 2 AM by going to a new place.

Your RA’s room:

RAs love to see their residents! If our doors are open, feel free to stop by, catch up, and work on stuff. Another pro tip: I can promise that your RA is REALLY smart. It might not be a bad idea to ask them for help if you get stuck. They may also be a great pair of eyes on a paper or assignment! This is the view from my RA room last year.

Off Campus

Herrick District Library:

Herrick is just across from Centennial Park and is a fantastic resource for students. There are quiet reading rooms, rentable spaces, and awesome cozy chairs in the young adult section. Most importantly, almost no students think to go there during finals week!

Kollen Park:

Kollen Park has beautiful views of Lake Macatawa and is within walking distance of campus. If you go in April or May, there’s a chance you’ll see some tulips along your route!

Windmill Island:

During the fall and winter months, Windmill Island is often open for free, especially in the evenings. It is a great place to work on a book or writing project. Need to write a poem? Head to Windmill Island- you’ll find something worth writing about.

Crane’s in the City:

If LJ’s or Ferris gets too crowded, head downtown another block and go to Crane’s in the City (next to Karla’s Place). They have great cider, donuts, and even some apple pie if you’re lucky. They also have large tables to spread out at and a homey, autumn feel.