Duke University and Housing & Residence Life strongly believe in the value of the on-campus residential experience. This experience provides you with exciting opportunities to meet new people and learn about cultures and lifestyles that may differ from your own.
Incoming first-year students are matched with roommates based on the information provided from the lifestyle questions on the first-year housing application. We have found that students who have the same study habits, noise tolerance, and sleep schedules tend to have positive experiences living together. While no one can guarantee a “perfect roommate,” we find that pairing students based on these behaviors offers a starting point from which students can develop a rewarding roommate experience. It is important that you answer each question on the housing application honestly so that we can accurately match you with someone who will be compatible!
Healthy roommate relationships take time to develop. An important place to start is getting to know each other. Make time to find out about your roommate’s background, habits, interests and pet peeves. Talk about your differences and similarities, how they may affect your living environment, and what compromises you both may have to make to maintain harmony. Discuss what you hope for in a roommate relationship.
During the first few weeks of the fall, your House Residence Life team will reach out to you to complete a roommate agreement between you and your roommate. Roommate agreements are mutually agreed upon expectations and guidelines for living together in your shared space. This agreement will outline the responsibilities of each roommate, including the division of chores, expectations for communicating with others, and rules regarding guests and noise levels.
By setting these expectations at the outset, a roommate agreement can help to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts down the line, promoting a more harmonious and enjoyable living environment for all involved. It will also provide your RA with a foundation to assist mediate any potential disagreements.
You will be asked to discuss and compromise on establishing living standards for your room. As you think about what living with another person may look like, here are some items to begin considering:
- Sleeping and Waking Arrangements (e.g., What are your preferred bedtimes? What time will folks generally wake up? What are everyone’s needs in terms of lighting and noise when someone is asleep?)
- Study Time (e.g., When does everyone study in their rooms? What environment do individuals need while studying?)
- Use of Personal Belongings (e.g., What items can or cannot be shared? How will you request to borrow items? What does respect for each other’s items look like?)
- Cleanliness and Space Use (e.g., What is your mutual definition of “clean”? How will cleaning tasks be shared? What are your room temperature preferences?”)
- Guests (e.g., How frequently is everyone able to have guest? When? How long can they stay? How will you communicate/request for an overnight guest to stay over?)
- Communication (e.g., How will you communicate issues or needs with each other? What can you agree to in terms of resolving issues? How will you generally communicate with each other?)
You and/or your roommate may be from different cultures, have different lifestyles, or may even be new to sharing your space with another person. That is ok! Your relationship with your roommate is just like any other relationship. It requires clear communication, a willingness to listen and consider the other’s feelings, and a willingness to compromise. By working together, you and your roommate can help ensure that you are both comfortable living together in your shared space.
This Bill of Rights defines mutual responsibilities among roommates. Each person has a basic right to:
- Live in an environment free of harassment and/or intimidation.
- Live in a clean space.
- Study in your room without unreasonable distraction.
- Sleep in your room without unreasonable disruption.
- Have access to your room.
- Expect that guests will visit during mutually established hours.
- Expect that your roommate will respect your personal belongings.
- Have a degree of personal privacy.
- Call and talk to one another, if possible.
- Don’t rely on just texting, social media and email to communicate.
- Talk about the little things that bother you before they escalate.
- Be prepared to compromise.
- Remember that each of you has rights. Treat your roommate as you would like to be treated.
- Don’t rely on first impressions. Make time to get to know each other.
- Have realistic expectations about your roommate relationship. Accept, appreciate, and grow from the experience of living with someone who may be very different from you.