Dealing with Messy Roommates

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Rima Kikani > Junior > English > UMBC
After a day full of two-and-a-half hour English lectures, you trudged back to your dorm, ready to hibernate under your favorite comforter. But unfortunately, you’ve found your bed adorned with bags of Doritos and greasy post-it notes. Or maybe, when your long-lost friends surprised you that weekend before Thanksgiving, they were pretty surprised to see your carpet decorated with dirty thongs. A lot of us have had the honor of living with the roommate from hell.

Whether you’re one of those who shrieks every time the biology book is not the 4th one on your alphabetized bookshelf, or someone who just wants to be able to see your floor, here are a few tips on dealing with the mess.



The Talk: The most obvious—sit your roomie down, and tell her that you do not want to live in a bug-infested swamp. Do this early on, before the situation gets worse. Politely ask her to clean up after herself and suggest sharing the responsibility. Divide up the chores and see if you can solve the problem the easy way.
Stop cleaning up after them: If your roommate keeps on leaving used tissues and crumpled paper balls behind, don’t take down their decorations. That is one of the first mistakes students make. Those roommates will think that their behavior is not a problem for you. Wake Forest sophomore Leah Beachley says she once had a roommate who came back from parties with her clothes covered with mud, beer, puke, food…the works. And, worst of all, she would leave those clothes lying around the room for weeks. “I just ignored it. We had separate sides of the room, so I avoided everything,” she notes. Don’t morph into their mom; it will only encourage them.
Outside Help: If your roommate just does not want to get rid of his dirty dishes collection and you do not want to spend your weekends scrubbing the walls, consider spending some money. Hire a monthly housing service, and make your roommate pay half the fees. He might even get the hint and start doing his laundry. But at the very least, your apartment won’t smell like the men’s locker room.
Put it on the bed: This might be a bit risky, but sometimes we need to take drastic measures. If the mess gets out of hand and your roommate remains deaf to your pleas, author of Roommate Survival Guide Sylvia Bergthold recommends “putting the mess on her bed.” Bergthold declares she has done this herself to a former roommate: “She left dirty greasy dishes ‘soaking’ in the sink and went out on a date. When she came back at 2 am, there they were, sitting on her white eyelet bedspread. She couldn’t say anything because I had already warned her exactly what I was going to do so it was NOT going to be a surprise.  She changed her ways very quickly.” So give her a few warnings first and see if she listens. If she doesn’t, have a little fun.
Find a new roommate: Despite all of our efforts, some people don’t change. Your college years should be among the most fun and memorable of your life. Don’t let a messy roommate ruin that for you. If nothing else works, it might be time to say good-bye. Give them the 30-day notice or move out yourself. Hasta la vista.

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College Magazine Staff

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