Many scholars believe lingering issues from World War I directly contributed to the start of World War II. What can students learn from this global battle? The connection between wartime and living with roommates may not be as obscure as you may think. The key to success in any kind of conflict is an effective strategy. Therefore, it’s important to resolve roommate issues the first time, or more problems will surely resurface with a vengeance.
Most major wars involve some squabble reguarding territory. Avoid this pitfall by setting boundaries early on with all roommates. Decide where everyone’s food belongs in the fridge. Determine if kitchen appliances are available to everyone or just the owner. Perhaps no one understands sharing space more than sophomore Emily Fraczek, who grew up with a twin.
“I was used to sharing everything because of the whole twin thing so when my roommate asked to borrow my clothes I said ‘yes’ right away,” Fraczek said.
Students should realize their new roommates may not necessarily have the same perspective about sharing.
“The moment I asked to borrow one of her shirts, she freaked out on me,” Fraczek said. “I eventually confronted her, saying that it was unfair that I let her borrow my clothes if she didn’t want to lend hers out in return. She agreed and apologized and we ended up sharing a lot of clothes by the end of the year.”
Although Fraczek’s story had a happy ending, this is not always the case.
A diplomatic solution can diffuse a conflict before it starts. Negotiation also remains the best policy for regulating tricky communal items in the house. For example, is the owner of the TV allowed to hog the DVR even though other roommates split the cable cost? Should all housemates have to pay a high electric bill because one person left the air conditioner on all weekend? Is the Justin Bieber fan in the house entitled to plaster the entire family room with posters?
Many times, roommates simply do not realize their selfish ways and have no intention to act disrespectfully. These dicey situations require diplomatic strategies. All roommates need to choose the protocol for these circumstances before they become problematic. Multiple roommates should never gang up on one person, because he or she will get defensive and may be less willing to understand.
Before World War II, major democracies appeased and ignored the Nazi regime and Hitler was allowed to escalate into an infamous tyrant. Clearly, an excessively passive stance is not a beneficial option for politicians or college roommates. Clarice, the other Fraczek twin said her roommate would leave lights on at night.
“I never really said anything because I didn’t want things to be awkward between us,” Clarice said. Many students want to avoid tension, but confrontation does not have to be uncomfortable. Perhaps Clarice’s night-owl roommate could have used a night-light or studied in the residence hall. Communication major Aaron Kunst suggested being upfront when conflict arises.
“Make sure your roommate understands you are serious but not in a negative or condescending manner,” Kunst said.
Substitute accusing words such as, “you always do this” for collaborative phrases, such as, “We can decide the best way to handle this.” Often, there is a simple solution and roommates are willing to compromise to keep the living situation pleasant. Some students remain so terrified of conflict they resort to passive-aggressive techniques. “Try not to leave notes, send texts, or hit them up on Facebook where messages can easily be taken the wrong way.”
Acts of valor on the battlefield are commemorated with honors and medals, which make the soldiers proud to serve their country. Similarly, while addressing problems in the household, it is imperative taht roommates also promote positive behavior with encouraging words and gestures.
“I feel really bad when my roommates have to wash my dishes,” senior Jessica Vasquez said. “So if they do happen to clean up after me, I always thank them or try to do something nice for them like bring them a dessert from my work.”
Routinely thank your roommates for helpful tasks like taking out the trash or vacuuming the floors. Often, roommates are more willing to contribute to daily chores when they feel appreciated.
Ultimately, students must implement diplomatic tactics and strategies to prevent World War III. Roommates should form crucial alliances to foster peace and unity in the household.