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"Hi! I am an RA in a co-ed hall, my wing is all female, and I am having some roomie issues. "Susan" and "Kim" have only lived together for one week, but they are having some personality conflicts. "Susan" told me that today, "Kim" yelled at her because Susan's computer woke her up at 10am when Susan came back from class and was checking her e-mail.
I wanted to help resolve the issue, so I asked Kim to come in the room and had them each share their feelings and set some ground rules for "quiet hours", etc. Kim apologized for yelling at Susan;
However, I could feel a lot of tension between the two, and I did not feel that this was a very effective solution. Kim seemed oblivious that there were any problems, but Susan seemed to be holding back.
After Kim had left, Susan got more to the root of the problem and told me that Kim was getting on her nerves and rattled off dozens of little things that Kim did that annoyed her. Kim has a very strong personality, she is really nice and means well, but some people see her as annoying or obnoxious, and Susan indicated that the other residents didn't like Kim because of this. Susan also said that Kim has been very clingy towards her, and Susan has invited her out with her friends, but now her friends don't like Kim either and are avoiding calling or coming to visit.
Susan is trying to be patient,
but she feels like Kim is walking all over her and not respecting that she lives
in the room also. Susan is quiet and pretty
soft-spoken and doesn't want to stand up to Kim because she is afraid to hurt her feelings. I have introduced Kim to different people on the floor, and I have not
noticed that other residents don't like her. I have also encouraged her to get involved, she is applying for an RHA position, but that will not start for another week
I have a good relationship with
both girls and feel comfortable talking to them, but I'm not sure if and how
much I should get involved. I don't enjoy
conflicts especially these types of situations!! I encouraged Susan to try to talk to Kim in a calm, assertive fashion, and offered my help if she felt like she needed a "referree". I also asked her to be sympathetic to Kim and try to understand her situation. I would like to see them work this out by themselves. Our policy does not allow room changes for the first three weeks of school, so that is not even an option. I feel they have the potential to work this out and be fine as roommates, I'm just not sure how to handle the situation, if at all. I have learned from past experiences that time can cause even greater tension, so I would like them to resolve this issue soon.
Thank you very much for your time! Brooke"
I think you have dealt with an extremely difficult situation extremely well. Your response comes straight from an "RA Textbook" if there were such
My recommendation would be to hold
back and obsreve the situation. It does sound like Kim may be trying to hard
to make friends and is putting
them off instead. This may be because it is the first week. It is very helpful that you are trying to connect Kim with others. This will hopefully
alleviate some of the "clinginess" that Susan is feeling.I think that you gave some great suggestions to Susan so that Kim doesn't
step all over her. It is now up to Susan to utilize the knowledge that you have given her.
I think that they both know that
you are a resource in dealing with their situation. I would continue to try
to get Kim connected with other people. I would also check with each of them
individually every couple of days to see how things are going. It is still early
and they both may be feeling stressed and uncomfortable with the new situations.
Part of the reason for the waiting period for room changes is so that roommates
are forced, a little, to deal with each other and get to know each other. Kim
and Susan don't have to be best friends they just have to live together. You
may want to employ the use of a roommate contract later on if needed. You may
need to have another mediated conversation, too. Good luck.
Property Manager - Forest Park Apartments
You have unfortunately a roommate conflict that happens all to often where the roommates don't express everything when you get them into a mediation.
I would suggest that you have your hall director attempt to mediate it as a completely neutral party. Be sure to convey to your supervisor what you know and your attempts to resolve the situation. They may be able to get the students to talk. They may not. In that event, it might be a situation that just will not work out and require a room change. But the room change will only come after giving it a good solid attempt.
What a situation you've got! It never
ceases to amaze me how complex human communication and dynamics are. It sounds
to me like you have 2 female roommates who are total opposites [personality/confrontation
wise]. Usually 2 distinct people make ideal roommates, but sometimes it takes
a lot of energy to work past the
"storming" part. All of the details you shared could lend themself to a 3hr. discussion on how to handle this situation, but for now I'll offer a short-short suggestion for you.
- Think about sitting down with each roommate separately and discussing with them what they truly want from this situation [and what they don't want]
- Sit down with them in the same
room and work towards a COLLABORATION. If your goal is for them to compromise,
one of them will lose on something that
matters to them for the sake of being agreeable. Collaboration involves both parties openly discussing what they want/don't want and what they are willing to
let go. I think that your 2 roommates will have a good chance to salvage their relationship if they are willing to collaborate on a solution [achieve win-win].
- Offer up good communication strategies.
How to handle a conversation when you are angry/frustrated. "I" statements
[not accusatory "you" statements".
- Seek out a campus [or local] mediation center to have their input on the situation.
- Be honest that they need to survive the 3 weeks until room changes are allowed. So, something has to change for that to occur.
I hope these suggestions have given you a starting point. Good luck!
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