Sharing a Space

Although college is a place of learning, the classroom is not the only place with the opportunity to interact with classmates. Those who live in the same residence hall, and especially a roommate, provide much of the social atmosphere of the first year at Saint John's. Living with a roommate can provide challenges and rewards. Before move-in, students should consider what they want out of their relationship with their roommate, what guidelines to follow, and anticipated problems.

The Room

A room is primarily a living space, but it can be much more, including a study area, a social center, or a haven from the pressures of school. Whatever shape a room takes on, its quality of life depends on the relationship between roommates.


Even though we try to match students with similar interests, roommates may often differ in the following areas:

  • Family - Upbringing, socio-economic class, and personal values all relate to family background.
  • Geographic Background - Rural, urban, suburban, or foreign countries.
  • Religious Views - Although the student body of Saint John's is predominately Catholic, students of all denominations are welcomed and encountered on our campus.
  • Cultural/Ethnic Differences - Saint John's promotes ethnic diversity and stresses respect for the unique backgrounds of every member of the student body. All members of our community must strive to understand the social and cultural differences of those around us and develop respect towards everyone.
  • Saint John's University is committed to maintaining a humane atmosphere in which the race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental handicap, or veteran status of an individual or group are respected and not disparaged. St. John's promptly investigates allegations of discrimination.

Common Roommate Problems

  • Sharing - Communicating expectations regarding sharing is critical in any group living situation. Sharing requires cooperation, so roommates should discuss feelings about sharing their belongings, including clothes, money, computers, and cars. Some roommates may not mind sharing their belongings; others may. Ask.
  • Housekeeping - Different people have different housekeeping standards. Roommates should agree about cleaning responsibilities and frequency.
  • Balancing Socialization and Studying - Some people want to use their room as a study area; some may want to socialize. Exam times may make for different standards of how busy a room should be. Consideration is the key; recognize that both roommates need to live comfortably in their room.
  • Study Habits - Some students study in their rooms, and others go elsewhere. Students focus better at varying times of day and with different levels of background noise. Roommates should discuss preferences and make adjustments.

A Basic Strategy: Communication

Communication prevents problems from being blown out of proportion. Often problems require flexibility to resolve. Cooperation can make a roommate relationship work, and communal living offers the advantage of new ideas and approaches. Roommate relationships do not require agreement in every aspect. Development of independence includes developing outside interests and friendships. Students may call upon their Resident Assistant (RA) or Faculty Resident (FR) for roommate problem guidance and resolution.

Soon after becoming acquainted with their roommate, students should discuss:

  • When do I need to sleep? When do I need to study?
  • How clean does the room need to be? Who does the cleaning?
  • Do I use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs?
  • Am I going to obey the rules and regulations of the residence hall?
  • What can I borrow, and what would you prefer to be left alone?
  • When can I have guests in our room?
  • How will I know if I've done something to upset you?
  • When can my friends call me?
  • Are you concerned about having me as a roommate?