Students have options to solve roommate conflicts

Eric Swanson

On a campus where thousands of students live in tiny residence hall rooms and cramped apartments, roommate horror stories are not difficult to find.

University junior Tessa Hodapp said she and her first-year Frontier Hall roommate stopped getting along.

“She used to stay up all night listening to music and playing a game where she would raise cats on her computer,” Hodapp said. “If I asked her to turn the music down, she would turn it up.”

But residence hall officials said students such as Hodapp have options besides losing sleep.

“They can move,” said Susan Stubblefield, the University’s assistant director for Housing and Residential Life.

Every year, a handful of students change rooms in residence halls because of roommate problems, Stubblefield said.

“There is a process, but some situations are much trickier than sitting down with a community adviser,” Stubblefield said.

Hodapp was lucky enough to know someone whose roommate moved out late in the fall semester, so she asked the hall director for the spot.

Nevertheless, most students are not allowed to move unless there are extenuating circumstances – forcing many to deal with less serious problems, Stubblefield said.

“There are some life skills that we try to help them develop before letting them move,” Stubblefield said.

Because residence halls are at capacity, it is also not easy to find a place to which to move.

However, if all parties agree a change is needed, switching rooms in late November is usually allowed.

Despite this, many times students are afraid to move because they are concerned for their roommates’ health, University counseling services director Harriett Haynes said.

“Roommates become part of your extended family and can influence your life in many ways, good and bad,” Haynes said.

But if the problems become too much, the concerned student

usually moves.

“Many times, there is a problem with drinking or drugs,” Haynes said. “Students don’t want to deal with a roommate keeping them up because they drank too much.”

Stubblefield said students should try to talk through problems before involving others. However, sometimes bringing in community advisers is necessary.

While students in residence halls have several mediators to which they can turn, off-campus housing issues are another story.

The University very rarely gets involved with off-campus housing issues, except through Student Legal Service, University officials said.

“Most of the time we deal with students who do not pay their share of the rent,” Student Legal Service assistant Barbara Boysen said.

University graduate student Marilee Krenik said one of her roommates in Dinnaken House apartments last year stopped paying rent.

“He went psycho. He thought we tricked him into paying the $500 for his share,” she said.

According to Student Legal Service, many students seek legal help but are not eligible because of a conflict of interest. Student Legal Service will not represent a student against another student if both are eligible for the service.