St. John’s University is primarily a commuter school, but there are still many students who come from all parts of not only the country, but the world. Around 80 percent of the student population are commuters. The resident halls, which are much nicer than most college dormitories, are supposed to be a home away from home for resident students. It is where they do their homework, sleep, shower and spend their free time.
Along with the dorm life, roommates become a huge part in a resident student’s life, since they share such small quarters and see each other at their best and their worst. The first few weeks may be bumpy, but once there is a routine and flow, it becomes a livable situation (most of the time). This sense of calmness and, however, can be distributed when changes are brought on unexpectedly.
It is understandable that there will be frequent roommate arrivals in both the Fall and Spring semester. However, it is not understandable when students are sprung with the arrival of new roommates without any notification, verbally or officially. It is an unpleasant surprise when after a long day of classes, a student comes back to their dorm room and sees a complete stranger unpacking their belongings in their room. It is also unsettling to be ambushed suddenly with a knock on the door by a fellow student informing you that he or she is a new roommate. The student could react without thinking, displaying signs of disgust with the idea of sharing a room with another person, and turn pale when thinking of sharing a closet when their belongings are already as compacted as they could possibly be.
Not only is this unsettling for the student being ambushed, but also for the moving student. The cold reaction of a bewildered and upset new roommate can make someone feel very unwelcome and unwanted, which is not the best beginnings to a new roommate relationship.
The element of surprise is not a good one in this case. By not informing resident students that they were getting a new roommate, the University gave no time to prepare things. There is little time to clear space for the new roommate and to adjust to the idea of sharing such close quarters with a new person. Forewarning would have allowed roommates to vent their frustration of not wanting another roommate and prepare themselves for the change. There is also no time to get to know the new person when there is no notification. If information was given, the new person could become an acquaintance to his or her new living mates and could talk about their living arrangement.
“I felt shocked and upset because the girl who was apparently my new roommate just showed up at my door one night,” said Donovan resident Amanda Coleman.
Another Donovan resident, Elizabeth Messina, agreed, noting, “My roommates and I had no time to prepare the room or get adjusted to the situation, since there are already three of us living in the room. No matter how the situation is, moving into a room when there is an already established living arrangement is always rough.”
No matter what, aggravation and additional stress is involved in a situation like this. It is a scramble to make room for the new roommate and for the residents to become adjusted to the living situation they’re entering into. The other angle of aggravation is trying to get the situation rectified by residence life, which is a headache trying to fit in an appointment between classes. It also can make the new roommate feel unwanted and can hurt feelings, even if it was not intended, which is never a good thing to feel in a place that is supposed to be a home away from home.