Roommate Agreements for Building Positive Relationships

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  • Maintain
    positive relationships.
  • Communicate
    expectations for sharing a space.
  • Build
    a great foundation.
  • Establish
    shared living arrangements.
Each fall, 8,000 students move into campus housing at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and most residents will share a space with at least one other person. To help facilitate roommate conversations and establish expectations, NAU offers students a Roommate Agreement. Cassie Luke, Manager of Business Strategies and Analytics at Northern Arizona University, says, “Roommate Agreements create an opportunity for dialogue prior to conflict happening. They are both proactive and reactive.”

Roommate Profiling

Building on the Roommate Profile questions completed during the application process, students first have the option to see how they align with their roommates. This step compares answers and shows students where they already agree with a roommate and where further conversation might be needed. The Roommate Profile asks questions on all aspects of sharing a space. Categories include alcohol and drug use, safety, cleanliness, sleep patterns, study habits, and more. NAU created the questions based on past experiences of managing conflict between residents.

“Electronic Roommate Agreements create a good place to model how communication might look when there is conflict.  This gives students the opportunity to self-guide the process rather than involving a staff member.  In the past when RAs facilitated roommate agreements, residents were inclined to give what they felt was the ‘right answer’ instead of the honest answer.”

Cassie Luke, Manager of Business Strategies and Analytics at Northern Arizona University

Roommate Agreements

Students living in a suite or apartment are also prompted to answer questions about the shared living space in addition to the bedroom. Help text on each page prompts the students with examples of roommate issues while also providing gentle reminders of campus policies. Survey questions consist of dropdowns, check boxes, and open-ended formats. Once a Roommate Agreement is completed, staff view the results via reports. As students and roommate relationships evolve, students are encouraged to revisit the agreement and make updates.

Each year the team reviews the questions to determine if any changes should be made. As the campus prepared to reopen for Fall 2020, questions were added to address how students will handle COVID-19 and guest policies regarding COVID-19.

Cassie knows that roommate disagreements will still arise, but with the established Roommate Agreement the conversation is much easier.

“This tool will not eliminate conflict, but rather set expectation and, when conflict arises, help guide the conversation to a resolution.”

Cassie Luke, Manager of Business Strategies and Analytics at Northern Arizona University

Visit the Northern Arizona University Roommate Success Guide to learn more about the roommate agreement process.