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09:56 pm: housemate
Once upon a time, the University of Michigan asked 3 lifestyle* questions to match roommates.
Do you smoke?
Do you like to sleep with the window open or closed?**
Do you like raw or cooked carrots?***

The last question was either a subtle psychological attempt to predict SOMETHING, or it was a ploy to make new roommates feel they had something in common, rolling their eyes together at the absurdities of the university housing office.

I don't know how well it worked, overall. (My mother roomed with her twin sister, and they found one another exactly as annoying as they expected.) I just thought of it a lot, when I was wondering what to ask potential housemates. And what to ask the people they gave as references. There were some nerve-wracking false starts.

I finally found somebody just before going out of town last week. He's an academic, living away from his family for a year or so while he does a post-doc. I don't know him very well--I can't know him very well, on such short acquaintance, but I felt comfortable with the guy. He's taking over the second half of the lease from Sovay, and I really hope it goes well.

*It's amazing how many aspects of lifestyle one person might consider significant and another consider trivial. What time do you like to shower? Do you whistle? (CAN you whistle?)

**This was a great way for the housing office to prevent roommate conflict for 6 weeks. Then the roommate from a warm climate realizes those last few words of "with the window open, unless it's freezing outside," might not go without saying.

***I used to think the only options for carrots were "raw" and "cooked," but then I discovered pickled carrots. I recommend these: http://www.realpickles.com/products_carrot.html

This entry was originally posted at http://adrian-turtle.dreamwidth.org/16281.html. Please comment there using OpenID, or here as usual.

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From:sweetmmeblue
Date:August 30th, 2013 03:20 am (UTC)

Never had to do this

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I never had to interview roommates but I was with dewex when he had to do it. He always had the sex/drugs/rock-n-roll conversation with them to see what matched up.

In college I roomed with friend from a youth group we belonged to (killed that friendship), then got an apartment off campus with a former hallmate (that worked fairly well), then lived with BFs and their housemates, then husband and friends...

Hope this works out for you.
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From:adrian_turtle
Date:August 30th, 2013 03:33 pm (UTC)
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He always had the sex/drugs/rock-n-roll conversation with them to see what matched up.

I find myself weirdly indifferent to most of that, though I tried to be careful to find I housemate I wouldn't feel I had to lie to about going off to visit my boyfriend and my girlfriend. (I'm going to spend Thanksgiving with family in Seattle, you know.) And, while drinking alcohol bothers me a LOT, I don't care about other drugs. Sovay's taste in music is much more varied than mine, and that has been kind of nice in ways I didn't anticipate.

Hope this works out for you.

Thanks.
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From:naomikritzer
Date:August 30th, 2013 04:15 am (UTC)
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My friend stargoatpdx worked for the Carleton College housing office, matching up freshman-year roommates. In fact, he was doing the roommate matching the summer before my freshman year, so he matched me with my roommate. The college used a rather extensive questionnaire that included the basics like smoking, drinking, and hours, but also asked things like what sorts of music you liked to listen to and whether you wanted to have music on while studying or needed it quiet or didn't much care. (I had one roommate later on who was mildly distressed that I could not stand to have music on when I was trying to sleep, even relaxing classical music, although I didn't object to it while studying.) Fillard is incredibly methodical and no doubt put the data to careful use.

I got along okay with my first roommate, but I think she found me annoying; spring term, she moved out to live with someone else. I got an almost-entirely-random roommate assignment. For filler roommates they asked if you smoked, if you minded a smoker, and if you drank, and if you minded a drinker. I told them I needed a roommate who didn't smoke or drink in the hope that they'd come up dry and I'd get the room to myself. They did find me a roommate; we got on fine, probably slightly better than I did with roommate #1 who was carefully matched. Anyway, I am not sure how much those questionnaires help, although "do you smoke?" is absolutely critical.

(I had four college roommates: three assigned, one chosen by me. Sophomore year, I roomed with my friend Hannah. Junior year, I went abroad in the fall and when I came back I roomed with a woman named Amy whose prior roommate had gone on leave. Amy was a fantastic overachiever -- she was double-majoring in Psych and Econ while doing the pre-med requirements and she kept her side of the room immaculate and she exercised for 20-30 minutes every day without fail. She was awesome and I felt completely inadequate in comparison. My senior year, I had a single.)

My friend Curtis later worked for housing (he may even have had the summer roommate-matching job, I can't remember). I heard that there was someone who put on his form, "I do not wish to live with a person of another race; please only give me a white roommate." 0.o The request was granted, because what the hell else are you going to do? (It's too late, at that point, to tell them to go to a different college. Also, you never know for sure whether that sort of request might have come from the student's parents...)
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From:adrian_turtle
Date:August 30th, 2013 04:10 pm (UTC)
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I had one roommate later on who was mildly distressed that I could not stand to have music on when I was trying to sleep, even relaxing classical music, although I didn't object to it while studying.

Oh dear. As part of an intensive summer program in high school, I once shared a room with four other people, one of whom could not sleep without music on. It was hideous. (Not as bad as the boyfriend who needed the tv on to sleep. He can manage it for a few nights when visiting, knowing how much of a problem it is for me...but it was a real difficulty.) Fortunately, this is the kind of thing that doesn't matter with housemates who have their own rooms.

Anyway, I am not sure how much those questionnaires help, although "do you smoke?" is absolutely critical.

By the time I went to U of M, they had stopped asking about windows and carrots, though they still asked about smoking. I knew of several roommate conflicts where people had said they didn't smoke because they were trying to quit. Or because they didn't want their parents to know they smoked.

I'm sure they'll be doing it completely differently by the time Molly needs to find a roommate for college.

I heard that there was someone who put on his form, "I do not wish to live with a person of another race; please only give me a white roommate." 0.o The request was granted, because what the hell else are you going to do?

That's a tough situation. The way some places do it now, with race classification on a separate page they say they separate from the rest of the information and just use for tracking discriminatory patterns...I don't know if it would be possible to grant that kind of request. But I can see why you'd want to. It would be hell on a roommate of color, getting stuck with that person.
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From:mrissa
Date:August 30th, 2013 04:53 am (UTC)
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I hope the roommate works well.

When I was going into college, I heard rumors that they tried to match people who were at least somewhat different, on the theory that college was about meeting and learning to get along with different people. I think that's all very well on the "I like classical and you like hip-hop" level of getting along, but sleep needs are pretty physical, and a dorm room is a pretty small space. I share a bedroom with someone whose sleep overlaps with mine about three hours a night, but we have the entire rest of the house; even when what we had was an apartment instead of a house, it was very different from the single-room college experience. And carrots would not have helped.

Another question I didn't think of until I got there (I had singles except for one summer research program) was room temperature. And then I found out that they didn't ask it because there was not any very good way of controlling the temperature of the rooms in most of the dorms at the time. Like, at all. You could hypothetically turn your radiator up in the winter, but if you did the CF (our name for RA) would be poking you to go to Student Health, because really, it was Plenty Hot in those old steam-heated buildings.
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From:chienne_folle
Date:August 30th, 2013 05:16 am (UTC)
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That's wonderful news! I'm so glad you've found somebody! Yay!!!

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