We want you to enjoy this year as you begin, or continue, your journey at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. A good place to start is by developing a relationship with your roommate(s). In order to develop a healthy roommate relationship, it is vital that you begin communicating right away. This guide is designed to help you do just that.
Shortly after the semester begins, your Resident Assistant (RA) or Apartment Assistant (AA) will host a community meeting to explain the online roommate agreement. You will be asked to meet with your roommate(s) and complete the agreement by a specific date. Your RA/AA will be able to track your progress and follow up. Please remember that staff members are available throughout the year to revisit previous decisions should they not be working out for you and your roommate(s). You will always have the ability to make changes to the agreement at any time. Our number one priority is to assist you in making your experience at Rutgers University a positive one.
Step One: Getting Started
Before you complete the Roommate Agreement, spend some time getting acquainted with your new roommate(s). Talk together (preferably privately), keep your conversations in confidence, only ask questions that you are willing to answer, be honest, and be respectful. Also, take some time before the meeting to reflect on your personal, social, and cultural routines so you are better able to express your needs during the agreement process.
Step Two: Define Your Living Arrangement
Use the categories outlined in the following pages to start a discussion about your expectations for day to day living. As you talk, record the key issues that relate to each topic and several possible solutions. Make sure the solution you select is in keeping with the policies and procedures published in the University Code of Student Conduct and the Residence Life Policies.
University Code of Student Conduct: studentconduct.rutgers.edu/university-code-of-student-conduct
Residence Life Policies: ruoncampus.rutgers.edu/policies
Use of Room & Quiet Hours
- How will we balance study time with TV/music/computer use throughout the year?
Does anyone have any allergens that should be avoided in the space?
- How will we manage the temperature in the room?
- How do we define quiet hours and when will they occur?
- What time will we usually go to bed?
- What time do we expect to wake up?
- How will we address the need for each roommate to have time alone in the room?
Use of Common Areas
- How clean/organized should the common area be kept?
- Where is it acceptable to keep personal items in the common area?
- What precautions will we take in the interest of safety? When will we keep the door/window locked?
- What is our definition of clean?
- Will we split the cost of cleaning supplies?
- How often will food areas be cleaned?
- Who will clean the (micro)fridge? How often?
- Where will we store food? What are expectations around food preparation?
- Where will trash/recycling cans be kept?
- Who will empty the trash? How often?
- Who will clean our common areas? How often?
- How often will you shower? How often do you expect your roommate to shower?
- How often should laundry be done? Where should muddy or smelly clothing/shoes be kept?
Use of Personal Property
- Who may use your TV, laptop, appliances, game console and other electronics? How often must others ask permission? Do you want to be present when others are using your property?
- Will we share clothing and other personal items/toiletries? How often must others ask permission?
- Which groceries will we share? How will we know who should replenish them?
- What happens if something breaks?
- Do we plan on doing social things together?
- Can we keep alcohol in the room? Is it acceptable to consume alcohol (if over 21)?
- What are expectations around private phone conversations? Is it okay to have them with your roommate(s) present? Is there any time of day or night when phone calls/texting should not happen in the room?
- Are there any social/cultural behaviors (smoking, etc) that you would like to discuss?
- Are there any social, spiritual, or cultural beliefs that roommates should be aware and respectful of?
- When is visitation acceptable?
- How will we communicate when we have guests/visitors?
- What are our guidelines for guest behavior?
- How will we hold our guests accountable for their behavior?
- May guests use the bathroom or shower?
- Can a guest use any of the beds in the room when one of the roommates is not home or out of town?
- Are overnight guests permitted? When? How often?
- What is our expectation about sexual activity in the room?
- How will we communicate? What are the best methods for communicating concerns?
- How will we handle interpersonal conflict?
- How will we handle conflicts with other students in another room (i.e., next door, down the hall, upstairs, etc.)?
- When or how often should we revisit our roommate agreement?
- How will we know when it is time to ask the Residence Life Staff for help?
Step Three: Complete Your Agreement
Once your living arrangement is defined, sit down as a group to fill out the online roommate agreement. One resident should go to(will be accessible starting on Sept. 3) and login using their NetID and password. Together, answer each of the questions asked. When complete, each roommate will be able to sign off on the agreement before it gets sent to Residence Life. Each resident will need to log in with their respective NetID and password to sign off on the agreement.
Step Four: Use Your Agreement
Once the Roommate Agreement is completed, refer to it whenever an issue arises. Does the agreement address the situation at hand? Is the agreement clear enough to resolve the situation? Does the agreement require renegotiation?
If the Roommate Agreement requires renegotiation, which is possible at any time during the academic year, follow steps one through three to negotiate the previous arrangement. If you are unsuccessful in working through a conflict, contact your RA/AA for consultation or additional mediation with Residence Life Staff.
The myth that roommates need to be best friends is false. Acquaintances can be excellent roommate(s), as long as respect and willingness to communicate are present. If you and your roommate(s) aren’t close – do not despair! It probably means that you have found other people with common interests in other areas, and you are probably focusing your energy and friendship on them.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Go into a new roommate(s)/suitemate(s) relationship with an open mind.
- Be honest about what you need to be comfortable.
- Talk to your roommate(s) right away if something bothers you.
- Avoid gossip.
- If you encounter a situation that you have not been able to resolve, contact your RA/AA.
- Treat your roommate(s) the way that they would like to be treated.
For additional support, please contact your respective campus office.