Move Process & Roommates
Conflict within a residential community is a common occurrence. The Office of Residential Life employs a process that encourages students to look at conflict through a positive lens. By doing so, students learn to:
- Value the differences that make individuals unique
- Navigate conflict in a productive and healthy manner
At Goucher, first-year students are required to fill out roommate agreements during the first few weeks of the semester. To help navigate these conversations, Resident Assistants (RA) of first-year buildings work with each roommate pair to complete an agreement form. While it is not required for returning students to utilize these forms with their roommates, the Office of Residential Life strongly encourages all students with roommates to consider filling out these forms.
The roommate agreement form facilitates a positive dialogue between roommates and allows participants to set ground rules on how they will navigate the every day and more difficult situations that arise in their new shared home. The form includes sections about personal belongings, use and cleaning of the room, visitors, and security. If students have any particular concerns not directly addressed in the form, they are invited to add them to the form to make sure their concerns are heard and discussed. While these topics greatly contribute to the quality of a student's residential experience, there are not topics that they typically bring up naturally in conversation. The roommate agreement is meant to have students proactively discuss how to handle issues as they arise throughout the year.
If problems between roommates arise during the academic year, the roommate agreement is an excellent tool to help address any concerns. In the case where an agreement has not been filled out, the Office of Residential Life's first step in intervening in any conflict will be to work with the residents to complete a roommate agreement that fits their collective needs.
Navigating conflict is a learned skill and can be difficult for even the most experienced of mediators. At the same time, learning to manage conflicts within a roommate environment is an important ability that will serve students well not only during their time at Goucher but in the future as well.
If a conflict or concern arises in the living environment, the FIRST STEP is for residents to go to their RA. If the residents come to the Office of Residential Life, a professional staff member will speak with the students to assess the situation and determine if the student(s) should be directed back to their RA.
Before students arrive on campus, RAs spend a week in intense training to prepare themselves for the coming academic year. A big component of that training is in conflict resolution, where RAs learn to effectively mediate conflicts between two or more parties. In the case that a conflict arises between roommates, the RA is ready to work with them to address any concerns that arise. RAs are not there to solve the issues, but instead, empower residents to hold each other accountable, to self-advocate, and to support the residents in working towards their own resolution. The goal of our mediation process is not only to address the issues but provide students the opportunity to grow from the experience. Mediation is a holistic process and based on the complexity of the conflict can be more than one meeting.
If the residents have met with the RA and the problem persists, or the problem is of a complex nature that requires additional resources; a professional staff member may involve themselves in the situation. Every building is overseen by a professional staff member within the Office of Residential Life. As every conflict is unique, our staff take a very intentional approach to addressing conflicts. This means there is no one size fits all approach but instead can involve a number of different options. This can range from further mediations with a professional staff member to a room change.
The mediation process is one that takes time and requires active participation by all members of the conflict. While RAs and professional staff are present to facilitate mediations, it is each residents responsibility to actively engage in conversations and mediation efforts to resolve conflicts.