Roommates are an inescapable part of the college experience for most people. It can be exhausting to sift through the interminable feed of Facebook posts from people in search of roommates, especially before freshman year. Someone may seem normal enough based on their carefully crafted fun facts and ideal bedtime… but can you ever really know?
Then, of course, you can always skip the scrolling and take your chances on a random roommate. Going random generally has a negative stigma associated with it, but just like any roommate situation, you can’t know how it’s going to go until you get in the room together and start living.
Jordan Hock, a junior engineering and sculpture major went random as a freshman, then once again as a sophomore in an apartment. He said he really didn’t know anyone coming into college and thought he might as well just chance it with someone randomly assigned. He thought, “It can’t be that bad,” well, it turns out maybe it can be.
Jordan was expecting to simply coexist with his roommate. He had no notions of becoming automatic bffs with the person he was assigned, but hoped they could be civil. What he got was a loud, messy, ever-present roomie who was a generally nice guy, but had some quirks that were hard to move past.
“I guess my problem with him was he was kind of a shut-in, he had a girlfriend but he didn’t really go out much and socialize, so he was there and he was often playing video games, you know kind of shouting and communicating with other people online and I’d already dealt with that at home quite a bit with my brother so I was kind of frustrated with that. It was when I was trying to sleep, study, anything really,” Jordan said.
This was the main source of contention for the pair. Jordan said he asked his roommate to quiet down when he was about to go to bed on many nights and for a while things would get better, then the issues would begin to creep up again.
“It would work, it would work, then it would stop working and I’d probably blow up a week later and be like, ‘Look man, just shut up.’ And that kind of cycled,” Jordan said.
And there were other issues. Jordan said his roommate’s side of the room was always messy and covered in clothes, hair and other items.
When asked, senior Olivia Sessoms who has been an RA for three years now, said that in this situation, she would have advised Jordan to get his RA involved in the conflict. She said having consistent, polite confrontations about an issue is the right way to approach things to start off, but if the situation is escalating, that’s when a third party needs to come in and mediate.
In this situation, she said it sounded like the roommate was at least trying to improve his behavior, but that a sustainable compromise needed to be reached like Jordan wearing ear plugs and the roommate bringing his noise level down and wearing headphones, but not requiring complete silence.
“Put your best effort into your relationship with your roommate, because you know, growing up it is important to learn how to deal with other people and take into account the way they live but if it’s really just not working out and it’s to the point where it’s exhausting both of you, I would just consider maybe talking to your RA and if they can’t get anything figured out, maybe a room switch just might be best,” Olivia said.
At the end of his freshman year, Jordan said he was sick of on-campus dining, not being able to easily access his car and sharing a room with another person. When he moved off campus, he decided to go random again because most of his friends lived with their families in town. He went with Paramount 3800 apartments because the rent was cheap and he was able to get his own bedroom and bathroom.
Jordan said he thought this situation would be better because he was able to have his own space where he could shut the door and be away from his roommates, and for the most part it was. He said one of his roommates occasionally threw parties in their apartment but he decided to bear with them rather than cause an argument because the instances were so few.
Outside of the occasional parties and a little messiness, Jordan said he got along with his three random roomies in their apartment pretty well.
“We kind of all, you know it’s kind of a crappy place, so like yeah we kind of bonded over the fact that oh our fridge doesn’t work, this apartment sucks. Or our laundry machine just broke, this sucks, I hate this apartment, these guys don’t know what they’re doing. So that kind of redirected I think some of the frustrations of living with each other,” Jordan said.
Olivia said that going random in an apartment can be more of a risk because there is no RA to go to if a situation escalates. However, she also said that it does have some positives like having your own space to get some alone time.
Lauren Houser, a junior recreational therapy major had an overall more positive random roommate experience than Jordan. She was a transfer student from Florida, she started at ECU in the Spring of 2019. Her roommate originally had the room to herself for a while when she moved into their dorm.
“We didn’t really talk much for like two months or a month when I first got there and then like one day, we randomly just like clicked and we were hanging out every day, I still hang out with her, I still talk to her to this point, so at first it was really awkward but now I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Lauren said.
The moment things clicked was when she ran into her roommate sitting outside the dining hall and her roommate introduced her to one of her friends. From there the whole group of them started hanging out and they grew closer over time.
When asked about the advice she would have given Lauren to get to know her roommate sooner, Oliva said she would suggest trying to invite her to do some activities in the first week just to get the ball rolling and to start feeling more comfortable around one another. She said you don’t have to be best friends, but you do have to live together so getting to know each other outside of the room can help ease some awkwardness.
Olivia also said that coming in mid-year can add an extra level of awkwardness. She suggested being honest and maybe joking about the situation to relieve some tension that may be present.
“I mean I would probably just kind of come in and I just always start by joking it away,” Olivia said, “Just joking around being like yeah I know that it was kind of like just you on your own like you had your own crib here, but you know, I’m really looking forward to living with you and everything.”
Overall, Oliva said that while it can be a little more difficult to navigate a random roommate situation, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to choose to go random. She pointed out that it can “expand your reach,” introducing you to people outside of those you already knew in high school, and who may have different opinions or beliefs from you.
“Maybe just explore some of the like options maybe in your LLC or if you’re on the facebook pages anyway just to see if anything piques your interest and then if it doesn’t you can always do random,” Olivia said. “So I would just say, just explore your options the best you can but random even though it can be a little difficult or strange at times, and everyone has horror stories, at the end of the day it is just a new experience and everything can be scary.”