Monica Yamamoto

For nine months, they can be one of your best friends or your worst enemy. You’ll share one cramped space, a tiny refrigerator and – if all goes well – a great year.

They are, of course, your college roommate.

Although many roommate horror stories exist, plenty good ones do, in fact, prevail. So instead of harping on the roommate tales from hell, the Mustang Daily is here to offer you some tips on how you can be a good roommate. After all, your actions over the next year will deeply affect your roommate’s happiness and comfort, as well as your own.

“Just realize that you don’t have to be the best of friends; you just have to tolerate each other,” said civil engineering junior Sean Christy.

Christy lived in Sierra Madre his first year and had a good experience with his roommate.

“If I was sick, he would take care of me,” he added.

So what makes for a satisfying roommate experience? Being considerate and respectful can play a huge part, many students said. While not all roommates will go fetch a bowl of chicken soup for you, it doesn’t take a lot to show compassion for them.

Unlike many other universities, Cal Poly does not pair up students based on common interests, meaning your roommate was probably assigned randomly.

“Students indicate to us if they are a smoker or nonsmoker. And that is all. We don’t do any profiling,” housing coordinator Julianna Clark said. “We compare ourselves every year with seven other demographically similar schools and we’ve found that schools that do profiling have a worse roommate satisfaction rate.”

Of students living in the dorms, Clark said that 87 percent are reportedly satisfied with their roommate experience, which is higher than other schools that match roommates based on profiling.

So what qualifies as a satisfying roommate experience? Open communication, even if it just means asking about their day, can turn awkward situations into comfortable ones.

“I had some roommates who did something to really bug me that I never really confronted them about,” said electrical engineering senior Julian Corwin. “I guess the thing that bugs you about them, try not to take it out on them passive aggressively.”

Realize that even little annoyances added up over a year’s time can easily drive your roommate crazy. Again, being considerate has its benefits.

“The only complaint I did have was that he never emptied out the trash,” Corwin said. “I’d empty it out for him.”

Cleanliness can be a huge factor in the housing happiness scale. Your room is also your roommate’s room, so try to keep the place relatively clean, whether it’s your dirty dishes, open snack bags or laundry – do something about it before things pile up.

“Sharing a room is a drag,” nutrition senior Anna Schroeder said. “You never know when someone’s going to be in your personal space. You never have privacy really, even if you’re alone.”

Schroeder hit on a sensitive nerve among many roommates: privacy. If you end up dating someone during your first year, be careful about how much time he or she spends in your dorm room. And whatever you do, never “sexile” your roommate.

“Most of it just has to do with respect – respect the other person’s personal space, time and property,” Corwin said. “Follow that and you should get along, as long as you’re not annoying.”

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