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January 11, 2007


Many students experience a difficult transition when they arrive at college. In addition, traditional college-aged students face a host of developmental issues that frequently impact all aspects of their lives, including their academics. Students who live in the residence halls sometimes face additional challenges, such as roommate and noise problems that could contribute further to a sense of disequilibrium.

Occasionally students will refer to these problems in a class discussion or a conversation with a faculty member during office hours. While as a faculty member you are knowledgeable about your academic discipline, you may be at a loss as to how to aid a student experiencing difficulties with a roommate. The Office of Residence Life can help.

The most common issues students face are conflicts between roommates or suitemates. When Residence Life staff members learn of a problem, regardless of how major or minor it may be, they work to try and bring about a quick resolution for all students involved. Among the intervention strategies utilized are mediation sessions designed to compel roommates to communicate their expectations to each other. Many roommate concerns are resolved easily and in the process students learn about the importance of communication, conflict resolution and compromise. If a problem cannot be resolved, staff members will assist the student with requesting a change of room assignment.

In addition to roommate concerns, some students find it difficult to adjust to the experience of living in a dorm. Not only do students have less personal space and privacy than they had at home, but noise and community activity may affect their ability to sleep and study. For that reason, residence hall staff members enforce quiet hours each night and respond to situations that could be disruptive for students. In addition, staff members teach students what it means to be a responsible member of a community and how their behaviors impact other students in their residence hall.

Addressing problems is just one way that Residence Life staff members help students to succeed academically. They also develop educational programs and services that complement the classroom experience and promote the wide variety of academic resources available to students on Pitt’s campus.

If you suspect that one of your students is experiencing difficulties related to their residence hall experience, the Office of Residence Life staff can help. Contact us at 8-1200 so that, as a team, we can provide the support necessary for our students to excel.

Shawn E. Brooks is the director of Residence Life. Karin M. Asher is the Residence Life assistant director for program services.

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