Living in Residence is not like living at home. There is going to be a very diverse community of students from virtually all over the world and from many different social and economic backgrounds. This is what makes Residence living so beneficial. It is really a microcosm of the 'real' world, while there are many people to help them along. There, they should learn to get along with very different people, develop a level of compromise and to deal with unique situations.
Most students today come from environments in which they have never had to share a bed room, a washroom or many possessions. Being such, it is very important that they learn to respect the space and needs of others, while maintaining their own autonomy. Residence halls are living and learning "laboratories" in which students learn to get along with people who are very different from them and negotiate touchy situations. Many university students have never had to share a room or possessions. It's important that they learn to be both assertive and respectful of other peoples' space and things. At the same time, it's really important to them to be liked and not appear selfish or immature.
Helping your student adjust to their new community are senior students known as Residence Life Staff - Resident Assistants (RAs) and House Presidents (HPs). RAs are trained extensively to deal with many common and uncommon situations that come up in Residence. Everything from academics, to health concerns to roommate conflicts, RAs can deal with all of them. Meanwhile HPs are there to provide the social support and activities they need to enjoy life outside of the classroom. If there are any problems, send them to their RA. They'll be happy to help.
What you can do to help
- Remember that this is a big adjustment for your student, and it could be the first time they've had to share a room or living space, especially with a stranger
- Ask your student to speak with their roommate first. Once that has happened, tell them to speak with their Resident Assistant
- Listen and empathize in an unfortunate situation
What may not help
- Blaming the roommate
- Trying to solve the problem yourself by calling the Resident Assistant or the Residence Life Coordinator directly