How NOT to live with a roommate

"Sexiled?" Really? University students should grow up

While perusing GoogleReader, my daily procrastination destination, I found this Globe and Mail piece. Here’s an excerpt:

Rachel Fahlman was puzzled when she stumbled upon students camping out on a battered couch in the TV lounge of her Carleton University dorm. They had, after all, paid thousands of dollars to rent a room for the year.

It turned out they’d been sexiled: forced to find another place to spend the night while their roommates had sex in their shared room.

Oh the joys of having a roommate.  Who can forget that special person you were forced to live with – oops – enjoyed sharing a room with during first year?  No matter how many times you hear the whole shpiel about the rewards, the friendships, the late-night girl chats, it doesn’t change the fact that sharing a room is a tricky skill – but it’s definitely a life lesson worth learning.

At King’s, the residence matching system involves the usual lifestyle habits (Do you go to bed early or late?  Do you listen to music while you study?) and a paragraph to personalize your application.  When they matched my roommate and me, somehow they managed to put two people so incredibly alike together, it was ridiculous.  We had similar figures of speech and mannerisms.  My friends found the match remarkable.

Despite all of this, my roommate experience was far from perfect.  My main issue?  There was always another person in my space.

It’s awkward to suddenly have to share your space.  With so many of us coming from homes where we had our own room, it’s a skill we just don’t have.  It sticks us outside our comfort space – and that’s why it’s so great.    I learned to communicate.  I learned to compromise.  I learned my own personal limits.  For example: I need my space.  But sometimes you don’t always get what you want, and if you do, it’s because you work for it.

Here is my disclaimer, however; I love my ex-roommate.  She’s a lovely person, really fun and funny, caring and loyal, exactly the kind of person you want on your side.  I only wish we’d been in the same classes and not in the same dorm room.  I know for sure I wasn’t always easy to get along with.

But despite my issues, my roommate and I, from the start, negotiated what each of us needed.  We were understanding when hearing requests and reasonable when making them.  It is perfectly reasonable to ask a roommate for some time alone in the room – for any reason, not just sexile – but it is not reasonable to take it by force.  Sorry.  Also unreasonable?  Sex while your roommate is IN THE ROOM.  I hope everyone reading that is cringing and saying “What?” and “Who would DO that?” out loud.

Ms. Fahlman, the floor’s residence fellow, said the lucky ones had been given the heads-up by their roommates that they’d be kicked out. The less fortunate had been subjected to the moans, groans and twin-mattress squeaks while they lay in horror a few metres away.

EW.  EW.  Once more – EW.

Who does that?  Who thinks that it is reasonable to do that?  Thank you Roommate, for never doing that to me.  Thank your for having respect for me and some common sense.

According to the G&M article, in the U.S. there has been actual administrative moves toward dealing with roommates and sex.  Roommate contracts and residence guidelines include rules against sex while a roommate is present.  Rules like this are frankly, upsetting.  If my university spelled that out for me, I would feel patronised – this is a stupid kind of common sense and reason rule that we can figure out ourselves, as adults.

Make your own reasonable, respectful rules, or you’ll have them imposed on you by residence administrators.  They are not your parents, and they don’t want to be.  Don’t act like a child.   That’s what it comes down to.  You’re in university – grow up.