A guide to sharing living spaces

Photo by Charlotte Lao, Photo Editor/The Daily Campus

College is typically the first time most people share living spaces with others. We meet people with different habits and sometimes clash with our roommates about the neatness and cleanliness of common spaces. So how do we resolve disputes like these? If each roommate grew up in a certain environment, with organizational standards that differ from one another, how do they decide whose living standards the entire common space abides by? These conflicts can impact students to the point where they decide to move out if a satisfactory solution is not found.

Most residents do not feel comfortable living in their dorm if it is not clean. To decide the cleaning standard a shared living space should be held to, it is vital that every resident clearly communicates the hygiene he or she usually practices at home and wants for their living space. For example, telling your roommates it’s important to you that the trash is frequently emptied will communicate a standard for your living space. After sharing and discussing cleaning habits, residents should abide by the highest standard discussed. For instance, if one resident says they would like to clean the shared bathroom every other week and another says they would like it cleaned every week, then the bathroom should be cleaned once a week in order to make every resident feel comfortable.

My experience sharing living spaces so far this semester has been very different from my previous semesters’ experiences. I currently live in a suite-style dorm, meaning I share a bathroom with my roommates and the girls who live next door to me. Similarly to my suite last year, I share a bathroom with both my two roommates and the two people who live next door. Unlike last year, however, the cleanliness situation has been far worse and my suitemates have been very uncooperative with the upkeep of the shared space.

After discussing and agreeing on what kind of cleaning practices we want to have in the shared bathroom space and what we think is unacceptable, we are still having problems making sure they keep our space clean. The five of us may have differing definitions of what “clean” means, but that does not mean we need to endure living conditions that we don’t feel are suitable or comfortable. For example, we had all agreed to not pour food in the shared sink because my roommates and I find it appalling, but our suitemates seem to have disregarded our discussion and continue to leave a mess in our shared sink. My roommates and I have had trouble reaching out to them about cleaning the bathroom, so we had to involve our Resident Assistant (RA) and are looking to move out of the suite after this semester. We have spent countless weekends cleaning our space and significant amounts of money buying supplies when we should be focusing on our academics and success at UConn. So, essentially, the unfriendly and unsanitary situation with our suitemates in our shared space has affected us to the point where we feel as though moving out is our best option.

Working through problems with shared spaces can be frustrating because they affect our daily lives on campus. Spending time in your living space can help you cope with the challenges college throws your way, whether they come in the form of academic obstacles or difficult social situations. Your room should be where you go to relax, so it is important to feel comfortable in your space and with your roommates.


Keren Blaunstein is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus.  She can be reached via email at keren.blaunstein@uconn.edu.