Roommate Relationships

Having a roommate is new to many students, especially if they had their own room growing up. The college roommate relationship is a rewarding experience that you will always remember…but you have to work at it. Good communication is key, and if you establish this early on, you will make the most of the good times and be better prepared to deal with the more challenging moments.

Suggestions for Contacting Your Roommate

  1. Call! Sharing your voice over the phone is much more personal than a simple text message. Better yet, use video chat to share your smile! Whether your roommate is down the road or across the globe, video chatting will help you put a face with a name.
  2. Think about what your roommate will want to know about you. What would you like to know about them? Have a few “low-risk” questions handy for your first conversation to break the ice. Here are some examples:
    • Why did you choose to come to UW-Madison?
    • What are you hoping to study?
    • Tell me something I wouldn’t find out about you on Facebook.
    • What are you hoping to get involved with at UW-Madison?
    • Have you ever shared a room before?
  3. Discuss who is going to bring what on move-in day. Remember that you have plenty of time and certainly do not need to purchase everything up front. Here’s what Bucky would bring to campus.
  4. A few reminders:
    • It may take a few conversations for you to get to know one another. College is all about meeting new people and this is your first challenge even though you are not on campus yet. You’ll be surprised to discover what you both have in common.
    • Give your roommate time to respond to your email, voicemail, or text message – they may be at work, away for the summer, or just feeling a bit of nervousness at your first conversation as roommates.
    • Remember that you cannot believe everything you read on Facebook. And if you’re unsure about something you see – just ask.
    • Consider the time zone you’re calling to not interrupt others. Your roommate might be up, but their family might not!
    • UW-Madison is a uniquely diverse, world-class institution. It is ok to meet someone new and different than you. In fact, it’s part of the Wisconsin Experience!

Roommate Agreement

To help get the conversation going, your House Fellow will have a roommate agreement for you and your roommate to complete at the start of the semester. Take it seriously. The agreement prompts conversation about topics that we know are important to students. Make sure you and your roommate address all topics listed and share what is important to each of you.

Having a “Tough” Conversation

You and your roommate have had a great couple months, then something happens in the room and you’re feeling frustrated. This is natural, it has happened to all of us. Remember good communication? Now is the time to use it. Discuss openly with your roommate how you’re feeling and seek a mutual resolution.

Still Not Going Well? Time for an Unbiased Third Party

After having a conversation with your roommate, if you find that you both are still unable to reach a resolution, your House Fellow can be a valuable, unbiased third party to discuss concerns with both roommates. The House Fellow will use your roommate agreement as a basis for the conversation. Depending on the outcome of the conversation, the House Fellow may work with you and your roommate to revise the original roommate agreement or refer both roommates to a Residence Life Coordinator for further discussion.