By Emily Lease, contributing writer
Photos from Google
One occurrence that a lot of college students experience is having roommates. In a lot of cases, movies and television programs show these relationships as wonderful friendships that will last forever; this is not the case for most people. In reality, a lot of students deal with roommates that they are not compatible with, which can result in arguments or, in some cases, mental and physical abuse.
When asking the McKendree Residence Life department about how they pair people to live together, they were willing to answer my questions and gave me a copy of the paperwork that they have students fill out as incoming freshmen. The first question that they ask incoming students is where they would like to live. Following this, they ask them if they have a preferred roommate that they would want to live with, such as a friend or teammate.
Next, McKendree Residence Life pairs students based on some of the following questions. For example, how social are you, and how much sleep do you need in a day? It seems like Residence Life tries its best to match people up, but just because personalities match on paper doesn’t always mean they will work well in person. This is where some of the bearcat horror stories come from. Due to these stories containing some sensitive information, no real names will be mentioned in this piece.
The first story comes from a McKendree graduate that we will call Jenna, and her experience from freshman year which was very stressful, to say the least. Before the school year started, Jenna’s roommate admitted to quitting their anxiety medication right before she moved here, which proved to be a very bad idea. Jenna would often find her roommate staring at a blank wall and not responding to their name being called. This worried Jenna, but she did not say anything to her RA until things got worse. For example, the roommate had stopped eating and going to class; thus, Jenna was awake at all hours of the night, keeping an eye on them. Finally, after a couple weeks of this happening, Jenna contacted the right resources to get help for the roommate. The lesson learned from this scenario is to always talk to a medical professional before you discontinue any use of medication. Also, don’t be afraid to contact counseling services if you are worried about your roommate/classmate. Luckily, in the end, Jenna and her roommate were both safe and got the help that they needed.
McKendree sophomore, Lola, also dealt with a horrible roommate situation that resulted in bullying and harassment. The original issue was between Lola and her roommate, with whom she was sharing a bedroom. Her roommate was an international student who decided to break the rules and have their boyfriend (who was international but did not go to school at McKendree) live with them. Lola communicated with the roommate that she was uncomfortable with the situation, especially because it was starting to affect their schoolwork. The roommate and their boyfriend replied with aggressive behavior and started to bully her. The bullying then spread to the other roommates who were also teammates with the international student. Lola was being bullied by four people by the end of the situation. The result of this was Lola moving out to get away from the toxic environment. When asked about how she felt now, looking back on the situation, she expressed that she wishes it didn’t get as bad as it did, but after it happened, she started to stand up for herself more and was able to make some awesome friends. There are three lessons that you can learn from this. One, don’t be a bully just because someone communicated with you and you didn’t like it. Two, good things can come out of bad situations. Three, don’t have illegal things in your apartment because, just like Lola’s roommates, you will get caught and written up for it.
This last story is from Savannah, a senior here at McKendree, but involves multiple people. Savannah decided to live with a friend and another person—who we will name Taylor—who was on the same team as them. When Savannah moved into the apartment, Taylor had filled each cabinet in the communal kitchen with her personal items and said that no one but her can move the items. This, of course, confused Savannah and her other roommates, but she let it go and figured something out. She just stuffed her own kitchen items in a small cabinet. However, the drama did not stop there. A few weeks later, Taylor went up to one of the other roommates (Grace) and told them that they were faking their anxiety, and told another roommate (Maddie) that she did not like the other person’s personality. Sadly, no one got out of the situation and everyone just waited it out until the semester was over. The two lessons from this are that you should make a compromise in certain situations, and that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.