By: Sarah Fielder
Living in a room with a kleptomaniac, waking up to a roommate doing drugs or being forced to do a roommate’s laundry are all nightmares that students hope to never deal with in the residence halls. For some UMD students, these nightmares are an unfortunate reality.
Juliet*, a junior special education major, studied abroad as a freshman in Italy through a university program.
In Italy, Juliet roomed with five other women, four of whom were also enrolled in the university. Juliet said that another roommate told her that the fifth woman had been going through their possessions and stealing small items and cash.
“We found out the last week, ” said Juliet. “One girl knew the whole time and told me in passing. She didn’t think it was wrong.”
Juliet said that she and the other roommates attempted to report the girl to the school, but decided against it because they didn’t have any concrete evidence.
“It was a good overall experience,” said Juliet. “I learned a lot about handling these situations and I grew up a little bit.”
Mary*, a sophomore biology major, also experienced roommate troubles her freshman year when she lived with an exchange student from Japan.
“She was hardly around, leaving early, coming in late and leaving remnants around the room. There would be [chewed] chewing gum on the desk and empty energy drinks everywhere,” she said. “Half-eaten apples would be on her desk for weeks. I loved that girl to pieces but she was gross.”
Mary said one time her roommate left her clothes in the laundry room for several days before bringing it to their room and had to lay out all the clothes to dry them because they smelled so bad.
Mark*, a freshman international business major, said his roommate kept illegal drugs in the room.
One Wednesday night, Mark went to sleep around 1 a.m. after finishing an essay. Mark woke up to find his roommate and three other men he did not know in their boxers with bongs and drugs.
“Waking up, I literally thought I was dreaming,” Mark said.
Mark said that he threw away the drugs and his roommate got the other men to leave the room.
“I was freaking out,” said Mark. “What if my RA saw this? I would be done.”
Kate*, a sophomore enrolled in Letters & Sciences, said she initially got along with her roommate from England.
“My roommate was friends with a lot of people in the United States before she came here,” Kate said. “I would walk in a lot and there would be random people in the room. The first time I walked in, they were finger-painting on the floor.”
Kate said she and her roommate were friends until she discovered that she had been stealing money off of her debit card. She filed a police report, but chose not to press charges. Her roommate paid her back, and Kate is unsure as to whether she experienced any other repercussions.
Resident Life Associate Director Mike Glowacki said that there are two main ways for students to handle roommate conflicts. A large number of students use the room exchange that is available online for the first six to eight weeks of school. This allows students to switch rooms without permission from Resident Life staff members.
Other times, the roommates will contact the Department of Resident Life to help facilitate roommate disagreements. Glowacki said other ways to alleviate roommate conflicts include talking to a Resident Assistant, using the roommate agreement and going to a higher-level staff member at Resident Life.
*Name has been changed