(Photo above by Kate Kalvach via Unsplash)
Yes, this is my second article this week about roommates. But it’s top of mind for me.
For context: my roommates and I agreed to live on campus for this upcoming semester. Our school allowed any student to be released from their on-campus housing contract anytime before August in case they decided to take classes from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of course it was always a possibility that the plans my roommates and I made in March would fall through. But we had been talking about our move-in dates and logistics basically up until the deadline to opt out of on-campus housing. We talked about who would bring certain things to the apartment, brainstormed activities for us to do if we get bored, and planned dinners we would make together. It seemed very clear to me that despite the risk, we would all live together this year like we discussed. And even though this semester would be very different, and we would have to take extra precautions to be safe living on campus, I was excited to live with them.
Then, all three of them broke the news to me that they would not be returning to campus, and instead, they would stay home and take classes remotely. This was two days before the deadline to pull out of the housing contract.
They gave me two days to decide whether I would stay in that apartment and possibly with the strangers the university placed in their empty rooms, or live in an off-campus sublet with anyone who had a free room. And let me just say that trying to find sublets and balancing all my options versus the on-grounds apartment made for two of the most stressful days of my life.
And the thing is, this all could’ve been avoided if they had just let me in on their thought processes earlier. Even if they hadn’t made up their minds yet, telling me about their uncertainty would have given me more time to plan for the possibility of them not returning to school. It would’ve saved me all the disappointment, frustration, stress, anxiety, and sadness of those days after they told me.
As awful as this situation was for me, it didn’t just happen to me. It’s happening to a lot of people right now. A friend texted me earlier this week that her lease fell through because her roommate decided to live in a different apartment. As my friend described it,
“it was a whole plethora of miscommunication and it just sucked.”
She now has to find somewhere else to live in the two weeks we have before school starts.
The pandemic has put everything into flux, and it’s hard to make decisions when things keep changing and you can’t foresee what will happen next. So I understand that many people can’t make choices about their housing situations until the last minute because that’s the only time your thinking is actually informed. But having active conversations with your roommates or any other people around you who are affected by your actions can alleviate stress and prevent harming them.