Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

Scroll to top


Random Roommate mess: Residence Life has work to do

Random Roommate mess: Residence Life has work to do


The “random roommate” system is intrinsically flawed, simply by being random. We all know that sharing a room with someone is a big deal. Everyone is different, and it does not make a lot of sense to put strangers in a room together based on no information.

The random roommate system, as far as I know, is in effect because Residence Life doesn’t want to take the time to match people based on preferences.  

When filling out the roommate profile, I selected my sleep schedule, noise level and room cleanliness specifications. Yet, when I have been randomly assigned roommates or suitemates, none of them matched up. I have had multiple roommates who appear to be nocturnal, which would be fine if I didn’t have things to do during the day, or if they were heavy sleepers.

Residence Life knows our preferences, but for some reason sees no reason to take them into account. My relationships with roommates would have been less tense if we had the same sleeping schedule, or the same opinions on what behaviors were appropriate in the room.

In a frankly ironic example, I, along with the person who lives across the hall were both assigned new roommates for the spring semester. A quick aside, I was not notified about this at all. No email, nothing.

I go to bed early and wake up around 8 a.m. I eat meals on campus and I like to do homework in the room. The girl across the hall keeps a different schedule. She stays up late and eats in the room. There are a lot of other little differences between us that might not be relevant to everyone, like how she does her makeup in the bathroom and I don’t, or that she doesn’t use headphones, while I do.

I was assigned a roommate who does the opposite of everything I do, and the girl across the hall found herself in the same situation. It’s pretty clear to me that if anyone had looked twice at our roommate profiles, the roommate assignments would have been reversed.

I have found that the number one cause of conflict in roommate relationships is differences in schedule or room space sharing. A reasonable conclusion to draw, then, would be that people should be paired based on what qualities they desire in a roommate, such as quietness, cleanliness and noise level, rather than being assigned to a random room based on nothing. If people were assigned based on facts, maybe there would be less conflict, and it would save RAs and Residence Life the time of refereeing arguments and separating incompatible roommates. 

I have always prioritized my housing based on the building I want to live in, rather than living with friends. This is simply because different buildings satisfy my needs than meet theirs, and I trusted Residence Life to place me with someone who I could reason with.

Some students just don’t have friends who want to live in the same building as them, and that doesn’t mean that they should be assigned a roommate with whom they cannot get along. It seems obvious to me that, considering how many roommate disputes occur even between friends, the random roommate system should be thrown out, in favor of a roommate matching system that pairs people based on similarities in schedule and room preferences. I know I would be willing to take a little time out of my schedule each year to read a few profiles and ensure a cordial living situation for my roommate and myself.      


  1. Anonymous

    People are rarely honest about themselves on the roommate matching profile. Dirty people probably don’t want to admit that they are dirty nor do they want to live with someone who describes themselves as dirty! To say that Residence Life disregards the information and matches completely randomly just isn’t true. I imagine it is difficult to find perfect matches when choices are narrowed to only those within a specific building who do not already have a roommate. Residence Life works really hard, cut them a break!

  2. Anonymous

    This article is poorly thought out and quite frankly, stupid. In criticizing UMW, you have essentially described the system that is already in place as something you would like to see moving forward. I am aware that you have to grasp at straws to make the BLUE & GRAY PRESS interesting enough to read, however, grilling reslife is not the answer.

  3. Anonymous

    Okay so you need to understand that after your freshmen year the number of people available to be randomly paired is slim because a lot of people will continue rooming with their current roommate. So to assume that ResLife is intentionally not pairing people is inaccurate. I understand that you didn’t have the most compatible roommate but hey that’s life and part of your residential experience is to learn how to deal with these issues and then go to your RA and ResLife if you can’t resolve then help facilitate your negotiation so when you graduate and move into the real work you have the skills needed to deal with these types of situations when you don’t have your RA or ResLife there to help you.