When my three future roommates moved into the dorm they were going to be sharing for the year, they had a lot in common; they all were engineering majors, they all were white, they all were raised in Florida, they all enjoyed attending UF sporting events, and they all adored going to the gym. It would appear that the University of Florida had made a conscious effort to put these students together and that they had the perfect living situation.
That is until I moved in.
I am a black journalism major who was raised in Germany and never cared for the gym or sporting events. Like most college freshmen, I was apprehensive about having roommates because I had never shared my private living space before. The fact that I was living with three other individuals in a room that had less diversity than GOP only added to my anxiety.
I was the last roommate to move in. Apparently, all my roommates had spent the previous weeks bonding over social media and already knew a lot about each other. So when I moved in it felt less like a greeting and more like a group interview. Nevertheless, I hoped that it would get less uncomfortable over time.
Typically, once the initial awkwardness wears off and people begin seeing each other as friends as opposed to strangers, everyone gets more comfortable. The problem is their comfort became my discomfort.
Despite having previous discussions about housekeeping rules, the room quickly went from a palace to a pigsty. There were dirty boxers on the table, pubic hairs all around the bathroom and a fly infestation due to old food not being discarded. The room became so unhygienic that the janitor no longer attempted to clean it. How extreme is the mess when a janitor (whose job it is to clean) goes on strike?
After constantly asking them to clean the room, I took matters into my own gloved hands. Over the course of a weekend I was able to tidy up the room and make it as nice and odor-free as it was when we all first moved in. They appeared appreciative of my effort, but the room quickly gathered filth and was back to a dumpster in about two weeks.
To make matters worse, my roommates consistently left the door to our dorm unlocked. They stated that it was “too much of a hassle” to have to unlock the door every time they came in. I have no idea what community they grew up in, but it’s nonsensical to leave the door unlocked when all your possessions are in the room. For the sake of compromise (which is necessary when trying to be a good roommate) I began to lock my possessions in a locker. This allowed them to leave the door unlocked and allowed me to have the feeling of security that I needed.
At this point, the end of the semester was drawing near and I had a sense of learned helplessness regarding my living situation. I was going to be living in the same room with the same people next semester and felt hopeless. I thought that it couldn’t get any more disgusting, but I was soon stripped of that idea.
One night after I came home after work I opened the unlocked door. I saw one of my roommates completely naked and sitting in my chair in the living room area. I slammed the door in disbelief. This was the final straw, and I decided that it was absolutely necessary that I move.
After a series of complaints from me and my parents, the housing office finally agreed. I was offered another room in a more expensive part of campus. I took up the offer despite not being able to initially afford it, picking up a job as a referee to make the move. I am still working to pay off the difference in rent.
Sometimes roommates just don’t work out and you should never be afraid to try to improve your living situation. Whether that improvement comes from increased communication or moving out, your primary goal should be to increase your comfort and happiness.
Now I have a roommate who is hygienic, locks the door, and that I have a lot in common with. I still see my old roommates around campus and try avoiding them whenever possible. I heard that a new person moved in to replace me and truly feel sorry for them. I doubt that being a maid was in that student’s housing contract. I know it wasn’t in mine.