College Roommate Conflict: When the RA Can’t Help

resolving college dorm conflict

Moving away from family and learning to live with new people is a challenge for every college student. But for some, the transition from home life to dorm life is especially difficult. A bad college roommate and an unhelpful resident advisor can really hurt a student’s adjustment to dorm life and her or his overall freshman-year experience. If you’re a student struggling with an uncomfortable living situation that’s deterring you from having a positive college experience, it’s necessary to seek out guidance immediately in order to resolve your dorm room conflict as soon as possible.

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Open Communication in the Dorms

Before you look for help outside of the dorms, make sure you’ve tried to communicate the problem to your roommate(s) and your RA. Whether you’re having an issue with a fellow college roommate or someone else on your floor, try discussing the problem with them directly. If you’re uncomfortable talking to the person involved, you should meet with your RA to discuss your situation. But if open and direct communication with both your roommate and your RA prove to be fruitless in resolving your issues, then it’s time to find help elsewhere.

On-Campus Professionals

At your college, there are many other professionals besides RAs who are either trained in conflict resolution or have experience with dorm room issues. If your college has a guidance office or a student life center, go and meet with someone who will listen to your concerns and try to help you settle your problems. Have you been assigned an academic advisor or is there a professor you like and trust? You can also meet with them to ask for advice about your living situation—at the very least they can direct you to a staff member who can better assist you.

If you’re certain you want to switch rooms or if your roommate has made you feel unsafe and may be a threat to you, to themself, or to others, then you must immediately go to your On-Campus Housing Office to report the situation. It’s possible that even during the middle of a school year they’ll grant your request to be moved to another room or different dorm. You can also always go to the Campus Police if the situation gets truly dire.

Reevaluating Dorm Life

If you feel as though you’ve exhausted all your options, then it may be time to examine your other living situations. Consider living off-campus either temporarily, while waiting for a new school year to start and a new dorm room to be assigned, or just living off-campus permanently.

Dorm life is not ideal for every student and there may be a better residential situation for you off-campus. Some students prefer living with nearby family or getting an apartment with friends. Off-campus housing can even be more affordable than on-campus housing. Many colleges have off-campus listings, either online or in the campus newspaper, where students can search for living options.

Whether you’re looking to switch dorm rooms or considering off-campus housing, it’s vital to seek out guidance and talk to someone about your dorm environment. If you feel as though no one at your school is listening to you or being helpful, then you should talk to a parent, guardian, or any other trustworthy adult. Remember that you’re not alone and that there are people capable of helping you resolve your college roommate conflicts. Don’t wait to find help—the quicker you can settle your dorm drama the sooner you can get back to focusing on your studies and enjoying your college experience.


resolving college dorm confilctJavaher Nooryani is a writer and editor based in Denver, CO. She has a BA in American Literature & Culture from UCLA and a Masters in English & American Literature from NYU. As a former private tutor and college prep advisor, Javaher is passionate about higher education and is happy to share her knowledge on CollegeFocus, a website that helps students deal with the challenges of college. You can follow CollegeFocus on Twitter and Facebook.


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