Roommate Selection at Its Best?
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 10:10
As I brushed my teeth next to a girl I had met seven hours before, I came to the bleak realization that I would have to live with an utter stranger for the next 10 months.
Regardless of who you are, where you are from or who you were in high school, you are immediately confronted with a sea of unknown faces on an unfamiliar campus. If that is not intimidating enough, for a while at least, you have nowhere to escape. Your room is no longer a safe haven, but another place you are expected to socialize.
However, it is a rite of passage for every freshman entering college. A year later I can reflect on the experience, as if 12 months makes me an expert on all things roommate. But I digress.
Some living situations work out well; others do not. That being said, the Housing Office states that they “try to gauge people’s ability to live together. The end goal is to not necessarily have the roommates be best friends, but they need to be able to co-exist.”
However, I think it would be a disservice to future freshmen not to question whether this process is the best. Is there a better way to match up roommates?
Santa Clara opts to pair people with similar living habits, according to Dimitri Woods from the Housing Office, with the hopes that they can find common ground.
Nonetheless, could the room become even more of a growing experience for us?
What if we de-emphasized a good fit and sought out not similarities, but differences? I can’t help but think this is an attractive alternative.
One of the main purposes of having a freshman roommate is learning to live with someone else, and being exposed to different people and experiences. I think that by learning to live with your roommate, it also allows us to learn more about ourselves.
If college is supposed to be a place of experimentation and self-discovery, how can we do this in the dorm room, if we are paired with someone similar to us?
Switching perspectives, would it be fair to force more change on freshmen? Would they even benefit from a different selection process?
I think so. I was paired with Emily: she loves country music, puppies and biology. In contrast, I love to discuss current events, listen to music with no country-boy twang and think puppies are cute if I don’t have to take care of them. Not to mention that Emily has a sweet nature, while I have been known to make a sassy remark when provoked.
By some miracle, Emily Campi and I learned to live with each other, and grew to be close friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better freshman roommate experience.
However, there are no guarantees you will have a positive roommate relationship, whether you have everything or nothing in common.
What I can guarantee is that at some point in your life you will have to deal with people who you have nothing in common with, or even like. Learning to get along with this person is a lifelong and marketable skill. So maybe we should not be aiming to make the dorm room a sanctuary, but as another opportunity for us to hone our people skills.
Claire Ingebretsen is a sophomore political science major and editor of the Opinion section.