Resources for Families
We realize that sending your student to college is a time of tremendous transition for your family. All students (and their families) go through an adjustment period and experience many ups and downs while living away from home. There are many resources at the College to help your student manage community life at Sarah Lawrence College.
Here, in the Office of Residence Life, our preference is to deal directly with the student. This enables us to establish a relationship with your student and helps to get to the crux of the issues more efficiently. We do welcome parent input and questions at any time. Our goal is to provide parents with resources which they can pass on to their student to help them help themselves. As a college, our relationship is with the student, and it is important that we include them in the process, which could include copying them on e-mail responses.
It is important that students have support and encouragement from home while being allowed to mature through their own experiences. By all means, be there for your student as a sounding board, but let them handle their own problems as much as possible. We know this can be hard, but your student’s success is dependent on their own ability to function independently.
The information below is provided so that you can be an informed resource for your student.
Helpful Hints for Assisting your Student if a Roommate/Housemate Conflict Arises
Families are instrumental in providing support and assistance to their student. By listening to your student, you can be a sounding board for them, providing support and perspective. You can help your student to understand their role in the process and empower them to affect their situation.
- Assure your student that having a roommate/housemate conflict is not a rare occurrence. Living with others requires ongoing communication. Most students are able to resolve conflicts in a way that meets everyone’s needs.
- Listen to your student as they explain the conflict; ask if it could be a misunderstanding rather than an intentional dispute.
- Find out if your student completed a roommate/housemate contract, and whether or not they have reviewed it lately. (All new students are required to complete a roommate contract at move in. This is meant to be a living document that changes and evolves as students learn more about their roommates and themselves).
- Ask whether they have sat down and had a heart to heart talk with their roommates/housemates. Students often think they have communicated their feelings without having actually expressed them.
- Don’t be afraid to question whether your student may have had a role in creating the conflict. Let them know you are not criticizing only suggesting a little self-examination. Remind them that every conflict has more than one side. Encourage them to consider why their roommates/housemates might see the situation from a different point of view.
- Ask if they have contacted their Resident Advisor to request a Roommate Mediation. RAs are trained in conflict mediation, and we generally find that an unbiased third party can help students come up with solutions that they may not have discovered on their own. In more challenging situations, a series of mediations may be necessary. Please encourage your student to communicate with the RA if they feel that further intervention is needed.
- If your student is looking for additional information regarding roommate communication, please refer them to the online resources in the Residence Life section of our website or suggest that they make an appointment to meet with a Residence Life staff member by calling 914-395-2575.
Ultimately, some roommate and housemate conflicts do result in the student deciding to transfer rooms. However, transferring rooms should be considered a last resort after the students have made an honest attempt at conflict management. Students wishing to transfer rooms should come to the Office of Residence Life to fill out a Room Transfer Request form. Please be aware that only a student can request to transfer rooms. We cannot transfer a student based on the request of their roommates, housemates, or family members. First year students are required to participate in roommate mediation before a room transfer is approved. This is to ensure that the roommates did have the experience of attempting to compromise and work out a solution, which is an important part of community life.
We hope these tips will help you to help your student initiate a solution to a roommate or housemate conflict if it should arise. If you have questions, concerns, or feedback, please contact us.