The excitement of AU freshmen can quickly deteriorate once they realize their room’s feng shui has been reduced to dirty boxers and half-empty pizza boxes decorating the floor.
Now AU students living in residence halls can opt for roommate mediation services right in their residence halls, courtesy of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services in order to deal with their issues.
Volunteer mediators now have open hours in the residence hall buildings, so students may drop in when they are having conflicts, rather than having to wait and arrange a meeting, said Christy Anthony, assistant director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Services — formerly known as Judicial Affairs and Mediation Services — and an in-hall mediator for Letts Hall. Previously, students would make an appointment with Anthony and then meet in the Student Conduct office.
Typically a resident assistant or resident director refers students to the mediators and their drop-in hours, but students can also check their hours and locations in the SCCRS Web site or on its Facebook page.
The SCCRS Web site defines mediation as a “voluntary, confidential process in which an impartial third party assists people in finding a mutually acceptable solution to [the students’] dispute.”
The mediators, who are mostly undergraduate and graduate students, have been through training and were aware of disputes going on in the dorms from their cases, Anthony said. The goal of the new program is to make mediation resources more available to students.
“It’s not because of rising conflicts, but taking a service and making it more available,” she said.
The main campus residence halls accommodated 2,800 students in 2007, according to the Spring 2007 AU Fact sheet. However, according to AU Housing and Dining Assistant Director of Programs Jennifer Alvarez, 3,192 are living on campus this fall 2009 semester — a 14 percent increase in two years.
Brian Banks, a senior in the School of International Service and a resident assistant in Anderson Hall, said he does not believe that students who live in doubles or triples will necessarily have roommate issues. It is more how they interact with one another.
Roommates tend to have more issues at the start of the semester and then begin to understand how to get along with each other more effectively, he said. As an RA, Banks said he believes he is usually able to help students work toward a solution, but sometimes the issues are more chronic. He has suggested mediation to students in the past but does not know how his residents have evaluated it as an effective resource.
“I haven’t heard any feedback,” Banks said.
Julie Budd, a freshman in the Kogod School of Business, said she was having “major roommate issues” and wanted to seek out mediation, but the situation never got to that point. Budd and her roommate first went to their RA, who recommended they communicate with one another about their conflicts.
Budd said going to a mediator was her first choice because the idea of going to a third-party individual with problem-solving tools appealed to her. However, her roommate changed rooms before the conflict got to the point where mediation was necessary, Budd said.
Despite the potential issues roommates can develop, Budd said the new mediation resources should work well for students because it brings out new ideas.
“I think it’s a good option, [my roommate and I] were really leaning toward it,” Budd said.
Anthony said all the students she’s worked with have seen some level of improvement, although for many students it is an “ongoing process.”