Two of your residents, Chris and Jordan, have been friends since the second grade. Both of them played soccer together and played the saxophone in band. When they both decided to attend the same college, they quickly requested each other as roommates on their housing applications. Living together for the past two months, Chris and Jordan have learned a few things about each other. For instance, Chris, who prefers to study in complete silence, is quite annoyed at Jordan, who prefers to study while listening to music. Jordan, who has always liked things very neat, has been surprised to discover that Chris thinks that the floor is a better place to keep clothes than the closet. In addition to learning about each other’s daily habits, Chris and Jordan are also finding the college experience to be different for each other. (Continued on next page)
Chris has made several friends on the floor and often joins them for dinner or hangs out with them in the game room (without inviting Jordan). Jordan has found that homework takes twice as long as it did in high school, and feels like there is no time for making new friends. One day, Chris invited Kelly, a new friend from down the hall, into the room to pick out a movie to watch in the lobby. Jordan, in the midst or studying and listening to music, became frustrated and told Chris to hurry up and get out. Chris was angry with Jordan for being so rude and the two didn’t speak to one another for several hours. Jordan, feeling fed up with the situation, come to you the RA in hopes that you will make Chris move out.
Who is right? What is going on in this situation? Is Chris right? Is Jordan? Are they both right? What do you, the RA, do in this situation? Does this situation seem realistic? Similar situations often arise in our halls
Mediation: “assisted communications for agreement” (www.mediate.com) In the context of an RA: A chance to help solve a roommate conflict about: ▪ When they study ▪ Guests ▪ When they sleep ▪ Using each others stuff
It is not your role to take sides. Conflicts are generally about preferences that do not match up. You should stay in the middle to help your residents see the other’s point of view
If the residents do not trust you, mediation will be difficult. They need to understand that you will be fair to both sides. To be trustworthy is best built up by simply getting to know your residents before an incident even comes up.
Listen carefully to what your residents are saying. Also watch for what their body language is saying. 60-70% of what is said is non-verbal. Be attentive to both participants
Tensions can get high in this process. Help keep things calm by staying calm yourself. You may need to take time with each individual to help them sort out their thoughts Take a short break if needed
Repeat what has been said between the two individuals. This can help each other get a good understanding of what they are frustrated with. It will help clarify the problem and highlight potential solutions.
Introduction Problem sharing and discussion Problem clarification Option Generating Agreements Conclusion
Identify your role as a mediator Set up some ground rules for the meeting Respect each other No interrupting Confidentiality Honesty Use “I” statements
Give an opportunity to share thoughts & concerns. Ensure that ground rules are being followed. Be careful to pay attention to non-verbal communication from both sides.
Help them to identify the main problem. Allow them to come to a consensus on what the main problem is. Reiterate points that they have both said if they have trouble agreeing. Help them to avoid simple statements like ‘they bother me’
Allow them to come up with possible solutions to the problem. You may need to help with starting some solution generating, but try to get some input from them. Avoid solutions that would likely please only one party like “they just need to move out.”
Assist them in deciding which options both can agree to follow. Be sure to clarify so that both parties are understanding the solution the same way. It may be helpful to put the agreement in writing.
Discuss what should be done if there are issues that come up in the future. Help them to understand that this process is something that they can do on their own. Thank them for coming.
If things get out of control always know that you can ask your GHC for help. If any other issues arise, know your campus resources. If you have any questions, never hesitate to ask.