• Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer

    University of Colorado students move in to Willard Hall on the CU campus in Boulder. Learning to live with a stranger is one of the most important lessons anyone learns in college.

  • Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer

    Izabella Dziecharska and her mother unpack her things in her dorm room at Williams Village on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. That space in cramped for more than one person to inhabit, which basically guarantees there will be problems down the line.



Let’s not sugarcoat this: More often than not, sharing a space the size of a walk-in closet with someone sucks.

Sometimes, you’ll find a best friend in your CU dorm roommate, but realistically, you may be in store for someone who slurps their ramen louder than your Netflix show, leaves wet towels on the floor or brings home a romantic partner without so much as a sock on the door.

When the going gets tough, Kate Theiler, director of marketing and communications for CU Housing and Dining Services, has some tips before the tough gets going and switches rooms.

Pick your battles

“When problems first arise, we advise them to try to work it out,” Theiler said. “If it’s very serious, obviously, there are resources for people to intervene, but if it’s just, like, ‘They ate my Cheerios,’ maybe they should talk to one another first and try to figure it out.”

Simple communication can end up solving a lot of roommate conflicts and even prevent them, Theiler said. Sharing pet peeves and deal breakers early on will help keep everyone in line.

Have compassion

“Remember, we’re all coming from different backgrounds and raised from different families and even parts of the world,” Theiler said. “Culturally, there might be different ways of doing things.”

Your roommate is probably not trying to ruin your life if they eat food that grosses you out or play music that isn’t your jam. College is about opening your eyes to the vast amount of experiences out there, and sharing a space with someone different from you is just one of the many situations that can seem frustrating at the time but will actually do you a world of good.

“Keep in mind, sometimes a bad roommate situation can be coming from one of the roommates going through a really hard time.”

Remember your resources

CU wants its students to have a positive experience, Theiler said. That’s why there are so many people to go to when roommate conflict grows.

Theiler recommends starting with the RAs in your building. These folks are trained in conflict management and have usually seen their fair share of roomie spats. They should be able to recommend helpful options like on-campus counselling, escalating the situation to involving a hall director or going through the process of getting a new roommate, altogether.

“We know that roommate conflicts can affect academic performance,” Theiler said. “When it gets really bad, we want to accommodate a switch.”

Elizabeth Hernandez: twitter.com/ehernandez

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