NBN knows having a roommate is hard. And sometimes, like going out on weeknights, creating a state budget or talking about politics on Facebook, it just doesn’t always work out. We wanted to know more about some of Northwestern’s worst roommate stories, so we interviewed students whose living situations freshman year truly crashed and burned. Every roommate pair broke up by Winter Quarter.
A match made in [Facebook]
“As far as chemistry goes, it is kind of hard to [find] when you’re talking over Facebook,” Medill sophomore Marty Johnson says. Johnson found his freshman year roommate through the Class of 2019 group. “It seemed like a good match,” Johnson says. “We came into it expecting to be friends.” For the first couple weeks on campus, they were. “We would watch football on Sundays. He seemed pretty chill,” he says.
This roommate relationship turned out to be less chill when Johnson accidentally took the wrong jacket home from a party in Fall Quarter. He ended up having to wear it for a few days before being able to return it. Johnson’s roommate confronted him; scolding him for such an egregious transgression. Later Johnson realized his own North Face was missing. “I [was] going through all my friends’ rooms,” Johnson says. “I tend to leave things places all the time.” His roommate told him he had not seen the missing jacket. Johnson eventually found the North Face – hidden under his roommate’s bed.
SOS (Significant Other Smackdown)
When Willgohs’ long-distance boyfriend came into town, her roommate had him sleep on the floor. “I’m like, these are her rules, okay,” Willgohs says. “So he sleeps on the floor.” The next morning, Willgohs and her boyfriend were cuddling and talking on the floor. Her roommate woke up and was furious and uncomfortable. She informed Willgohs that she would prefer if her boyfriend never stayed in the room again.
The thermostat wars
Temperature contention reigns among roommate controversies. Isabella Rischall, a McCormick freshman from Minnesota, preferred her room cold. “My house during the winter is like low 60s,” Rischall says. Her roommate, a California native, liked it warmer, and Rischall struggled. “I would wake up in the middle of the night sweating, and I’d have to walk up and down the hall to cool off,” Rischall says. For Rischall, outward agreements often turned into a covert battle over the dial. Her roommate would turn it up, and then Rischall would turn it down. Their temperature see-saw continued until they managed a temporary treaty at 75 degrees, with the help of an RA.
Just, like, avoid your roommate at all costs
“I didn’t feel the need to be constantly with her,” McCormick Freshman Deirdre Willgohs says. This was difficult, because they shared a major and a friend group. “We ate basically every meal together,” Willgohs says. Her roomate wanted a close relationship, whereas Willgohs did not. “I was just focused on doing my own thing,” she says.
Tension and miscommunication around this grew when Willgohs and her roommate were both running late to Orgo in Tech. Willgohs speed walked and her roommate fell behind, arriving to class a few minutes behind Willgohs.
Her roommate told a mutual friend that Willgohs was trying to run away from her. Even when the pair was on time, Willgohs was quiet on the walk to this class. “I’m just not a morning person,” Willgohs says. This also hurt her roommate’s feelings.
The lesson here is that if you take Orgo at 8 a.m., everyone will think that you hate them.
The falling out
Smaller dramas avalanched into shouting for these ex-roommates.
For Rischall, living arrangements seemed like they weren’t going to work out right before their compromise with their RA. Other issues, like futons piled with dirty clothes, hooks with the wrong bathrobes and slamming cabinets in the morning, made the temperature of the room unbearable for the both of them (literally and figuratively). In the middle of Fall Quarter, after a fruitless argument and mediation session, Rischall moved out.
After the drama, Willgohs and her roommate argued about issues they had not been able to confront as roommates. Their friends tried to help with the negotiation, but in the end, Willgohs moved out before the end of Fall Quarter.
Johnson and his freshman year roommate began their falling out after the jacket discovery. After a series of confrontations, Johnson’s roommate moved out Winter Quarter. The breakup was less than peaceful. “We blocked each other on social media,” Johnson says. “That was kind of like the horror story of my freshman year.” (Johnson and his roommate have since become Facebook friends again.)