By Emily Brower


By Emily Brower

The moment I met my roommate was awkward. I banged through the door on move-in day and turned on the light, only to find my roommate waking from what had been a peaceful sleep. Despite this, we rearranged our furniture, she helped me unpack, and ever since then, we’ve found ourselves getting along great for two people who were randomly assigned  to each other.

It’s an incoming student’s worst fear: having a roommate foreign to his or her own living style (in my case, literally: my roommate is an international student). However, doesn’t that random person you live with offer more than just taking out the garbage every other week? Charlotte Lehman ‘14 explained how she’s never had to share a room before, but this experience “lets you learn to live with other people.” Lutao Xie ‘14 adds: “Learning to get along with a stranger is a great experience.” We are, after all, in college for the experiences (both learning and otherwise).

Though the basic questionnaire that incoming students fill out asks no more personal questions than “Are you a morning/day/night person?” and “Do you smoke?”, successful roommate pairings have occurred. Just because two people like the same genre of music doesn’t mean that they will coexist in bliss (not to mention all the complex subgenres everyone listens to these days). And seriously, who wants to fill out another extensive form over summer break? Students ought to consider it a lesson in learning how to adjust, accommodate, and acquire new personal skills.

Also, students do not grow if they live and mingle only with people like themselves; the excitement is in handling and learning from the differences. For example, you could discover that you hate the sound of people talking in their sleep or you could find out that you really like hearing the “Teenage Dream” song that your roommate keeps on repeat. So rather than whine about those weird quirks the questionnaire failed to address, embrace the fact that your roommate is someone different, who you may not have gotten to know otherwise, and take up the challenge.


By Sam Bertschmann

Would you prefer a single room, suite, corridor, or focused study dorm? Are you a morning, day, or night person? How much background noise do you like when you study? Are you neat, average, or messy? Do you smoke, and would you like to live with a smoker? These simple questions comprise the housing preference form that all incoming freshmen must complete. Based on the answers given, each first-year student is matched up with another person with whom he or she will share a fifteen by twelve foot cube for the entire year. In my first few weeks at Union, I have found this quick survey to be rather inadequate, for it neglects to factor in social behaviors that most often cause tension.

Flaws in this system presented themselves early, with some switches occurring before the end of summer. Communications between roommates-to-be revealed that some pairs had such vastly different lifestyles that cohabitating would be uncomfortable; many freshmen have been faced with related problems now that school is in session. Since move-in day a mere four weeks ago, I have already lent my floor to a sexiled friend and witnessed another poor soul cleaning up his Bacardi-loving roomie’s bile. The adjustment to college life is challenging, and rooming with your polar opposite adds unnecessary stress.

In-depth surveys at other schools have proved to be more effective than Union’s brief questionnaire. A Boston College freshman noted that her roommate selection sheet, which asked approximately twenty questions, included queries about social activity and exercise habits, adding, “I love my roommate!” Similarly, a first-year student at Colby College praises her lengthy housing form and says she “couldn’t have asked for a better girl.” Both feel that this is the general consensus on campus, which is not the case at Union. One freshman wonders, “they tell us they want to match us up as best they can, but how can these few general questions possibly do that?”

Each new class would be better served by a more comprehensive survey. While it is important to interact with and learn from people different from yourself, trying to study while your roommate fills the air with a cloud of marijuana is too much to ask.


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