Confessions of an RA: Drama in the Dorms
Last week, while trying to ignore the looming mountain of homework sitting on my desk, I was procrastinating on my computer when one of my residents, Grace, came bursting into my room sobbing. After determining that no person or animal close to her had died, I asked her to tell me what was wrong, suspecting it was either roommate problems or boy trouble. Thankfully, it was roommate problems, my area of expertise (please, I have as much trouble with boys as anyone; there’s a SparkNotes for that, right?).
Grace told me that her roommate, Joanna, had been acting really distant with her lately, and that just a second before coming to my room, Grace had said hi to Joanna's best friend in the hallway, and the BF called her a word you shouldn’t EVER call a woman. When she got to her room, Grace found it locked even though she could hear her Joanna inside. When she attempted to open the door with her key, she found the chain across the door as well. Storming over to the door, Joanna said scathingly from behind the crack,“I’m on the phone, come back later.”
After talking with both of them, I learned that Grace had been doing a lot of little things, like bringing people back into their room in the middle of the night, turning on the light when Joanna was sleeping, and eating Joanna’s Fiber One bars (so good.), that had been bothering Joanna for quite a while, but that she'd never addressed. Because Grace didn’t know these things were a problem, she kept doing them over and over until Joanna finally lost it, badmouthed her to her friends, and lashed out by locking her out of their room.
Believe it or not, this type of thing happens all the time in college. I remember during the final weeks of senior year when everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief as they realized that all the “high school drama” of our teenage years would soon be over. I also remember freshman year of college, when that “high school drama” turned into “college drama,” and I watched as roommates turned into enemies, and the peace of our dorm dissolved into a silent war of passive aggressive battles fought between roommates and their personal infantries of friends.
Girl fights suck.
There are many reasons I love boys (especially the ones who look like they’ve been chiseled out of marble), but in particular, I love how straightforward they are with one another. When boys disagree, they just tell one another and then duke it out if necessary. Sure, it can get bloody, but at least boys admit that there’s a problem. When girls fight, they pretend like nothing's wrong to the person’s face, and then turn around and bad mouth that person behind her back. Like with Grace and Joanna, if girls do act on the problem, they do so in very passive aggressive ways. If you’re a guy reading this and have never experienced a girl fight, read the tea party scene with Gwendolyn and Cecily from The Importance of Being Earnest; it’s spot on. As an RA, I’ve had girls “accidentally” lock one another out, “accidentally” spill grape juice all over a comforter, tape down light switches to prevent them from being turned on at night, blast music while their roommates are on the phone, and even claim that they were sleepwalking when they cut up their roommate’s new dress.
These are the worst ways to solve a roommate problem. Just as in Grace’s case, many girls don’t ever realize that their roommate might be upset with them. The best way to let your roommate know that something is wrong is, not to lock her out of her room, but to casually mention that there’s an issue. Direct communication will A) allow your roommate to understand exactly why you’re upset, and B) lead to a swift solution. Any good roommate relationship or friendship is centered on communication and compromise. If there’s a problem, don’t let it fester; prevent it from spreading into other areas of your life by addressing it in its early stages. A good rule to follow is the 24 Hour Rule, which states that if you haven’t addressed the problem within 24 hours, then it’s not big enough to be addressed at all. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend an awkward five seconds telling my roommate that I don’t appreciate it when she uses my toothbrush, than spend an angry five weeks wishing she would perish in a fire.
What about you?
Related post: Dagger University: Roommate Dilemma