Agree to disagree

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

After seven years of working in OSU residence halls, Kelly Ignatoski has one piece of advice on getting along with your new roommate - talk to them.

It sounds simple, but lack of communication is the biggest cause of roommate strife. If you don't talk through minor irritations, small problems can easily snowball into bigger feelings of resentment.

During the getting-to-know-you phase, students should be open and honest about what bugs them and what they can live with, even at the risk of hurting their roommate's feelings, Ignatoski said. The first couple weeks of the year generally go smoothly, but around the third or fourth, people start to notice the little things that grate on their nerves.

"It gets to my level when there's a problem and people don't communicate to each other," she said. "They're talking to their boyfriend or the person down the hall - everyone but the person they should actually be talking to, their roommate."

Of course, you don't know yet which of your many endearing habits will bug your new roomie, so try to head off problems by avoiding things you do know are annoying. Listen to music through your iPod rather than blasting it through the speakers, for instance, and ask before inviting a guest to spend the night.

To help avoid problems from the start, OSU students lay out ground rules for the year in roommate agreements covering everything from cleaning responsibilities to hot-topic issues like alcohol and sex.

"Sometimes, personalities or personal values can clash, like when you have 'I don't ever want to have a man sleeping in my room' living with 'I have a bunch of guy friends who want to come up from Cincinnati and spend the night,'" Ignatoski said.

Roommates with fundamental differences in beliefs may ask to be moved, though in all but the most serious cases - like hate-related comments or physical threats - residence hall staff do what they can to help roomies work out their differences.

"There's a myth out there that you have to be best friends with your roommate, but really you have to be able to just live together," Ignatoski said.