Living Well with Roommates

We are thrilled that you have chosen to live and learn at LeTourneau University!  Our alumni continue to share with us just how much God has blessed them through the relationships they developed during their time here.  And while it would be typical for you to build relationships with students all over campus, there is no doubt that how you interact with your roommate will significantly impact your entire LETU experience.  The best part: as you get to know your roommate, you will also be getting to know yourself in a whole new way.

Whether you were prayerfully assigned a roommate, or you chose your best friend for the past ten years, the best relationships with roommates don’t just happen; they require a significant investment on your part.  In fact, experience tells us that roommates who chose each other often struggle more than roommates placed together by our residence life team.  The bottom line is this: good roommate relationships take work and patience.  They take good communication, maturity, compromise, and both quality and quantity time.  The following information has been prepared to help you and your roommate get pointed in the right direction.

How are the roommates assigned?
Roommates are assigned in a prayerful and artful process undertaken by the Resident Directors.  Here’s the process, step-by-step:

  • Once the tuition deposit and housing fee are paid, and once the housing application is submitted, the date is recorded and your name on the chronological list is reserved.
  • A few times through the summer, beginning a few days after the Spring semester ends, the RDs and the Director of Community life get together with all the forms.  Going through the list of applicants, they sort them chronologically first; then, they look at each person’s preference, placing them in their first preference until the empty spots in that hall have been accounted for.  Then, once a hall “closes,” and we come across a person with that hall listed as their preference, we place them in the hall of their second preference, working on down.
  • Then, among all the new applicants for the hall, we begin prayerfully and skillfully matching students based on their preferences.  For some, it’s based on their interests; others want to be with people in the same major, so we try to make that happen and then within that subgroup, we try to match within a variety of categories (favorite music, room temperature, desire to be friends, etc.).  Still others request each other, and those are always granted.  In that situation, if the date by which we’re housing the two students is markedly different (one applies in January, the other in July), we use the later date for both students, and they will be housed together in a residence hall according to that date.  That is why someone wanting to live in Davis Hall who applies early, and someone wanting to live in Thomas Hall but applies late summer will most likely be housed in neither of those locations.

As you can imagine, this is an incredible complex “puzzle” that we initiate that first day and then continue all summer long.  Hopefully, you can see from these details why your first preference isn’t always available, how we chose your roommate, etc.  Know this, however, that we believe God is a part of this process as much as He was in bringing you to LeTourneau, and we know that He can use this process to draw you closer to Him—however it turns out.  We’re thrilled to be a part of the a housing process that can put you in contact with someone that could be your best friend for the rest of your life!

Wisdom from Those Who have Gone Before You…
The good news is, you’re not the first person to be in a relatively small space with a complete stranger.  So we’ve got some practical tips from those who have gone before you to make this relationship not just tolerable, but transforming!

Communication
It all starts with communication.  Through the MyLETU Portal, you received home contact information and email address of your roommate.  If you’d like, start with an email to break the ice: introduce yourself briefly and schedule a time to talk with each other on the phone.  During this first conversation, don’t worry too much about who will bring what for the room.  Use this time to begin getting to know each other and set a positive tone for your new relationship.

It’s totally natural to be anxious about this first phone call with your roommate.  We have found that it’s best to be upbeat and positive, not to divulge all your quirks or high expectations all at once.  Expect some differences—you both have several years of expectations, experiences, and opinions under your belts.  Differences aren’t bad or automatically wrong—they’re neutral.  One of the best aspects of living with others is learning to listen well, ask questions, and appreciate the unique qualities of each individual.

Remember that just as you’ll change in immeasurable ways during your time at LeTourneau, so too will your roommate, so don’t hold onto your first impressions too closely.  After all, you probably wouldn’t want them to judge you too quickly, either!  These impressions can drastically change as you get to know each other throughout the first semester.  It is important to cut each other some slack and take your time getting to know each other better.

What should we talk about first?
The following are some questions and topics for you to consider during your first conversation:

  • Where all have you lived?  Where do you call home?
  • How old are you?
  • Who is in your family?
  • Why did you want to attend LETU?
  • What are you planning to study?
  • What are you most excited about in coming to LETU?
  • What are some of your interests/hobbies?  What do you like to do for fun?
  • What do you like to read, watch, or listen to?
  • What anxieties do you have about coming to LETU?
  • What makes you unique?

Throughout the time that you live at LeTourneau, you will quickly learn that communication with your roommate (especially speaking the truth in love early) is essential for having a good overall on-campus living experience.  So take the initiative now and set the stage for a great relationship!

What should we cover in further communication this summer?
After you have a little more knowledge about each other, feel free to start talking about more practical items, such as:

  • Decorating – some people want to have coordinated bedding or wall coverings; some already have their own.  Ask carefully so you do not set up expectations.
  • Will you use the following items in your room?  If so, who will bring these items?
    • Telephone
    • Television
    • DVD Player, VCR, Stereo
    • Refrigerator
    • Carpet/Rug

 

What Should We Talk about Early During the First Semester?
While it may seem awkward to actually ask these things, the answers are crucial to share with one another in one form or another.  Be willing to step outside your comfort zone and meet your roommate half-way, but in areas of great importance for you, also be willing to set good boundaries and ask that you roommate respect those.  Above all, be completely honest, sharing your true feelings and not just want you think the other individual wants to hear.

  • Sleeping Habits – Early or late?  Can you sleep with the light on? Do you take frequent naps?
  • Study Habits – Early or late?  In the room or in the library?  Quiet or TV and music on and a study group in the room?
  • Music – when, what kind, how loud?
  • Borrowing Things – how do you feel about it?  What things are acceptable?  Clothing, computer, food…
  • Cleanliness – what do you consider clean?  What do you consider to be unacceptable?
  • Room Inspections – how will you keep the room clean between inspections?  How will you divide and conquer the tasks to be performed?
  • Phone and TV Use
  • Pet Peeves – You know, all those quirky little things that drive you crazy!
  • Emotional Volatility – Are you a volcano or do you sit on your emotions?  How will we know you’re upset?
  • Expectations of the Relationship – do you expect to be best friends or just acquaintances?  How much time do you expect to spend together?
  • Accountability – how will you treat one another?  How will you call one another out?
  • Conflict – How should this community handle conflict/confrontation?

 

Living in Community
What does it mean to live in community?  Does it simply mean living in a building with several other students at LeTourneau?  In the Office of Residence Life, we view community as something far more than a group of people in close proximity.  Rather, we believe living in community is the integral, life-changing element of your overall LETU experience.  Community is about sharing all of life together—the good, the bad, and the ugly—to know and be known by others, and to be a part of something larger than yourself.

It can be tempting to view life as a story about “me” where you are the central character and all others are simply actors in your life movie.  Much of life today seems to support this claim that life is about you and what you want it to be; however, as you learn to live together in community, and as you consider the servanthood example of Christ, you will realize that you are a part of something far greater than yourself and that others are often used by God to reveal more of Himself to you than you could ever grasp alone.  The experience of living well together in community at LeTourneau University promises to be exciting and enjoyable, but it will also challenge you to understand better and take greater responsibility for your role in the overall community.

What if Life Isn’t So Rosy?
For all the good that life has to offer in fellowship with others, we all know that relationships are messy  At our core, we’re often selfish people who don’t always feel like thinking of others first.  So, while we don’t really want to bring up the idea of struggle in your roommate relationship, being realistic is the first step—recognize that in all the good, there will likely be some rough spots.  Once you see something going downhill, address it with your roommate soon—long before it becomes bigger in your mind than it might be in reality.  If there is still not resolution, involve the residence life staff—not everyone on your floor, not your classmates that live somewhere else, not the school newspaper.  Sharing with others outside only those most intimately involved does not honor and show respect for your roommate and typically only adds unhelpful drama to the situation.  The ResLife staff are trained to help, and the Resident Directors are wise in their counsel.  Involving them early in the process—well before you are “fed up” and “just have to move”—could create the best response of all: growth in yourself and others, and the preservation of a relationship that has persevered.

Final Thoughts
Our challenge for you today is to begin thinking about what it means to be a part of something bigger than yourself.  How will your actions affect those around you?  What are your rights as a member of the community, and what are others’ rights?  More importantly, what is your responsibility as a part of the larger community?  As you begin to be challenged by these questions, you will realize that living in community at LeTourneau is much more than simply cohabiting in the same building.

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