By Megan Ertel, Bloomington Center Residential Coordinator
What makes roommate meetings so special? Everyone is so busy with their day to day lives that roommates may not have the chance to see one another, let alone talk about issues or concerns they are having. Roommate meetings provide structure and a safe space where roommates can talk to one another about important issues.
The issues range from minor roommate issues (e.g. noise levels, room temperatures) to more personal issues (e.g. unwanted visitors, privacy concerns). I help mediate, facilitating discussion and brainstorming with the roommates to find a solution that is agreed upon by everyone.
Erin and Amy are two roommates that work hard on communicating and finding solutions to make living together easier. An example of a roommate issue they had was TV time. Amy and Erin both have TV programs they like to watch. Amy watches “Top Chef” on Wednesdays and Erin watches football on Sundays and Mondays. To make sure they are able to watch their favorite shows they discussed in the roommate meeting what would be an appropriate TV schedule.
They brainstormed different ideas and came up with the solution—on Sundays and Mondays Erin has control of the TV unless she does not feel like watching football, then Amy may watch something else. Wednesdays Amy has control unless she decides she does not want to watch “Top Chef,” and then Erin may watch something else. They also added coordinated movie nights and worked out who gets to pick the movie to watch that night.
At the next meeting, the two roommates found the TV schedule to have a few glitches, but they worked out the unforeseen complications. Overall, they have found the TV schedule helpful in reducing the stress and anxiety they had over not being able to watch their favorite TV shows—stress and anxiety that could have caused conflict in other unrelated roommate activities, like cooking or cleaning.
Many students have been able to use roommate meetings to discuss issues or concerns they may be having. Even students who do not have any current issues discuss preventive techniques they use to stop issues from becoming a problem. In the least, roommate meetings allow the students to keep the lines of communication open, which is the key to every healthy relationship.