When we were graduate resident assistants, we had a really great roommate agreement form that worked out really well and our students mostly didn’t have problems with their roommates. Unfortunately I can’t find a copy anywhere. I also can’t find any that address sexiling which is probably second only to eating the other roommate’s food in terms of causing problems.
We did have to mediate a lot of problems with students from other halls whose RAs hadn’t forced them to do the roommate agreement. The main problems seemed to center around three issues: Food, Sex, and Sleep.
Food– Some people are fine with their roommates eating their snacks (my college roommate’s dad sent her the same loaf of jam, jar of peanut butter, and jar of jam every single week for four years– she had gotten sick of them before we started rooming and basically gave them away any chance she got). Some people are fine if they’re asked first. Others don’t want to be asked. These are pretty easy boundaries to set in advance.
Sex– you would not BELIEVE how many kids suddenly in the middle of the year decided that their roommate couldn’t possibly mind being in the room while the kid had sex with someone. This would be unthinkable at the beginning of the year, but if kids didn’t talk about what to do re: sexiling in advance, the most insane things would happen. Roommates need to be in agreement about if people can stay over, what to do if they want to have sex in the room (sock on the door/give advance notice/find someplace else/etc.), and how long people can stay. This is much easier to do before there are any hormones involved.
Sleep– When we were RAs, most of the problems about this were excessive snooze button use in the morning and noise in the hallway at night. In high school, most of my fights with #2 were about sleep. I need sleep. I like sleep. I hated getting up early but I had early classes. I can’t sleep through anything. #2 didn’t mind skipping morning classes. When people aren’t getting enough sleep they’re grumpy. People who get up super early and make lots of noise are awful. In college, fortunately people who are still up are allowed to leave their rooms and can keep from bothering their roommates, but early morning risers need to not push the snooze button a million times while their roommate is trying to sleep.
This is a pretty decent link of suggestions, but the roommate form itself leaves a lot to be desired.
Another thing we recommended was that each roommate have designated some space that was theirs and theirs alone. If the other person’s stuff was in that space, the first person could move it without being yelled at. Similarly, people wouldn’t use each other’s beds or desks without their permission. (And certainly not for sex, like my first high school roommate did once when I was gone for the weekend. Use your own bed.)
Toilet roll placement: My first high school roommate took me aside one day in the spring when she couldn’t stand it anymore and told me to stop putting the toilet roll so it flipped under (I did this about 50% of the time). So I carefully made sure to flip it over every time I replaced it when rooming the next year with #2. Which drove her crazy until she finally told me it had to flip under. Who knew that people had exactly opposite preferences?! So I’ve been careful to ask any time I share a bathroom since then, but since then nobody has cared (except when we briefly had a kitten who would destroy the tp if flipped one of the ways, I forget which). I suspect most people don’t care, so likely the people who do care and share a bathroom should communicate their preferences in advance. Me I’m just happy if the other person replaces it at all, since my sister didn’t always and even mostly perfect DH has been known to forget on occasion.
Cleaning: One of my high school roommates would leave bowls of chamomile tea (for her face) out until they got mold. Don’t be that person. #2 preferred large piles of clutter, but since we each had our own designated space, I could just move her clutter back to her side of the room if it ever made it into mine.
What important things should be on a roommate agreement form? Share any successes or horror stories in the comments!