Dorm life and the living (can) be easy

Dorm life and the living (can) be easy

Dorm Etiquette: Rules to follow to not be that person in your dorm.

Sara Weir 


Charley Aguirre


It is the third week of the semester, and many of us are still adjusting, or re-adjusting, to college life and residence hall life in particular. After the chaos of moving into your room, you probably went to a floor meeting to discuss community guidelines for living together. However, the details on how to be a good roommate may have been left up to you and the other students in your building to know and learn. If you are new to living in residence halls, you may be unfamiliar with dorm etiquette. If you are a returner, perhaps you could use a refresher (or know someone who could). Not to worry — as seasoned dormers, we are here to give you the insider’s guide to residence hall etiquette. 

Roommate Etiquette: One of the most crucial things to settle right away is how to deal with differences in sleep and study routines. Whoever stays up later or gets up earlier might consider using a desk lamp instead of the overhead fluorescents and making sure to close the door quietly behind them. The other roommate might consider a sleep mask or ear plugs. 

You and your roommate may need to compromise on what kind of environment you want your room to be: a place to study or a place to relax and hang with friends. You may want to assign hours when visitors are welcome and hours to be reserved for studying. You may also want to discuss alternate locations for studying or socializing. Can the person studying do so in one of the dorm lounges or the library? Can the person socializing do so in a lounge or elsewhere on campus?

The two or three of you should also make sure to negotiate on how to keep the room clean. You are going to want to figure out early on who will be doing tasks such as sweeping and taking out the trash, as well as who will be buying or supplying necessities such as trash bags, air freshener, a broom, and a mop. It is not fair if one person does everything, so you may want to assign tasks or keep track if you are taking turns. 

One last tip for being a good roommate: Make sure you become familiar with any allergies your roommate may have so that you do not make the mistake of eating a food or using a product that contains your roommate’s allergen in it. 

Bathroom Etiquette:  In a residence hall, the bathrooms are shared among several rooms, and it is up to everyone to make sure they stay clean and in good use. 

The bathroom sinks see a lot of toothpaste, spit, soap, and other messes. Your fellow students should not have to. Be courteous, and rinse your mess down the drain. Hair should also be cleaned from the sink, whether it be many short hairs from shaving stubble, or that one long hair you randomly shed. Do not use the bathroom sinks to wash dishes! They do not contain garbage disposals and may clog, and food smells may cause the bathroom to smell. 

You should also make sure to clean your hair from the shower drains, as well as the walls. No one wants to shower standing in a puddle because the drain is clogged. Also, consider limiting your shower time, especially at peak times of the day. The number of showers in the dorms are limited, and you would not want other people to take up all the hot water! 

And, lastly, there are the toilets. It goes without saying that you should always flush, but sometimes you should flush twice — often, the toilet paper does not go down the first time around. Before flushing, however, you should wipe anything you may have left behind on the seat. Seat covers are meant to be used for sanitation, not to cover up other people’s bodily fluids. And, if it happens (and it happens to everyone) that you clog the toilet, grab the plunger if one is provided or suck it up and let your Community Advisor or someone else know immediately. Your dormmates will be grateful they are not one toilet short. 

Kitchen Etiquette: In dorms like the Harrises, kitchens are shared among floors; however, in larger halls like Turner and Wanberg, the entire community shares one kitchen. No matter which dorm you are placed in (yes, even in an Arbor Ridge), it is a common area and should be treated as such. An important rule to follow: If you make a mess, clean that mess. Dirty dishes should not be left to rot in a sink, leaving the kitchen smelly and unusable. Expired or unwanted food should be tossed from the fridge. This keeps everything smelling fresh and clears space for others to store their food. Lastly, when you are done using a kitchen appliance, make sure it is turned off. Broken appliances cost all the residents of that dorm as they must be replaced.

 Not to mention, kitchen-related dorm fires are a huge ordeal and entirely avoidable. No one wants to evacuate on a Tuesday night because someone burned their ramen. 

Common Area Etiquette: As anyone who has spent even one night in a full dorm can tell you, the walls are very thin. Remember this when you and your friends are having a time in the common areas. Screams disrupt sleep, and gossip easily travels. 

For residents over the age of 21 (or those who dare to break the law and rules), be sure not only to be quiet, but also that you are looked after and not causing damage to the property while under the influence. Damage that you cause to the furniture will not only be a financial cost to you, but could potentially cause you injury. Also, this might go without saying, but having a “babysitter” is essential to preventing you from creating a mess on yourself or elsewhere, as well as making sure that you get home safe and untraumatized. 

Above all, remember that this space is not solely your own. Abide by the golden rule of dorm living: Treat others’ spaces as you would want yours to be treated. So although dorming can be a pain, if you follow these etiquette rules, all should be well.