Living with a Roommate

During your time at UC Berkeley, you are likely to learn more about yourself and others than at any other time in your life. The students you are living with are students who, like you, are committed to succeeding academically, personally, and professionally.

Without a doubt, your year will be filled with many new experiences and memories. For many students, simply sharing a room may be a new experience. Having a positive relationship with your roommate(s), suitemates or floormates will add to the richness of your year. When you feel at home in your residence, you will be a better student and be better able to positively contribute to the University.

Getting To Know Your Roommate

The first step to developing positive roommate relationships is getting to know a little more about your roommate(s). Try some of the following questions or open-ended statements to help break the ice:

  • If I suddenly won $100,000 I would...
  • One of my favorite places to spend time is...
  • I would describe my friends back home as...
  • My favorite movie is...
  • The extracurricular things I'd like to become involved in are...
  • If I could have any job, I would...
  • This semester I am looking forward to...
  • A food I would never want to have to eat is...
  • I work hardest when...
  • A significant memory of my childhood is...
  • If I were to get a tattoo, I would get _____________ and have it on my _____________ ...
  • Three things that I am really good at are...
  • When I am stressed, I need...
  • I like spending my free time by...
  • If I could meet anyone from any time and place, it would be _____________ because...

The same premise applies when interacting with your neighbors.

Your responsibility as a community member is to respond to the needs of others in a manner that is characterized by respect and consideration. If you are having problems with your roommate(s) or neighbors, and need assistance in addressing the issue, please see a hall staff member. They are well trained in resolving conflicts and are eager to assist you in developing an effective roommate relationships with your roommate(s) and neighbors.

Developing Open Communication

It is commonly known that Berkeley is a culturally diverse environment. Because of the many different cultural perspectives, there is tremendous potential for learning and personal growth, not only about yourself, but also about your roommate(s) and neighbors. There is also the potential for misunderstanding. We are all going to make mistakes and no one is expected to be perfect. Talking about your background from your perspective, while also listening to your roommate(s) and neighbors, will help set the stage for understanding one another. Open and honest communication will help you to negotiate your needs, to accept differences in values and lifestyles, and to reach mutual compromise when necessary. 

Tips For Living in a Multicultural Environment

Be aware of the assumptions and generalizations you make about people. We all make generalizations and they are necessary in order for us to approach new situations. When our generalizations become fixed or rigid, despite new evidence to the contrary, they become stereotypes. Acting on stereotypes often breaks down communication and can set up barriers between you and your neighbors.

Skills for Effective Roommate Relationships

The skills you will build to maintain relationships founded upon respect, consideration, and open communication will help you long after your have graduated from Cal. Some of the skills that will assist you in developing a positive relationship with your roommate(s), suite-mates and floor-mates are:

  • Respect For Differences: Ask yourself, “How do I communicate respect?”
  • Willingness To Learn About Oneself And Others: Education is what the Cal experience is all about.
  • Tolerance For Ambiguity: How well do you deal with things that are unexpected or unclear?
  • Flexibility: You will not always have the opportunity to dictate the course of interaction.
  • Willingness To See Another Person’s Point Of View: This will increase your knowledge!
  • Patience: Some of the best things take time and commitment.
Tips to Help Facilitate a Successful Discussion
  • Set a meeting time during the first week of living together with enough time to address all of the areas of the Agreement.
  • Work together to determine the content of your Agreement.
  • Remember your goal to create a living environment that is conducive to having a great year.
  • Take turns responding to each item before going to the next one.
  • Negotiate and compromise on each item as necessary.
  • Generate a completed Agreement by which you all are willing to live.
  • Submit the signed agreement to your hall staff member by the end of the first week of classes.
  • Maintain open lines of communication during the year to address concerns when they arise.
  • Speak to your hall staff if you have questions, or if concerns or issues arise at any point in the process.
Personal Assessment & Renegotiating

Roommate Personal Assessment
By completing the Roommate Agreement, you and your roommate(s) can start to build and maintain the groundwork for a positive relationship. Now it is time to meet with your roommate(s) and discuss your responses. Use your answers to assist you and your roommate(s) in reaching an effective Roommate Agreement (PDF). Though the content of your Agreement may change throughout the year as you become acclimated to collegiate life at Cal, remember the framework for your discussion. You will be able to address situations when they arise during the year.

 

Renegotiating

It will not be uncommon for some of your preferences to change while living in the residences. It is also very possible that one or both of the roommates will not live up to the agreement. You may choose to renegotiate your roommate agreement. Be sure to utilize the same tips as in your original negotiations. In addition, try to avoid blame and accusations when you renegotiate your agreement. Please feel free to contact hall staff if you have difficulty renegotiating your agreement.