The Office of Residential Life works to to maintain healthy living environments that allow students to flourish, both academically and socially. While our staff are always available to talk with parents, we encourage students to first discuss any concerns or questions with their Resident Assistant or Resident Director.
Resident Directors (RDs) are full-time professional staff members with advanced degrees who live and work in the Residence Halls. They are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the halls to which they are assigned, including providing support services directly to students; supervising Resident Assistants (RAs); overseeing all educational, social, operational activities; and adjudicating student discipline cases.
Resident Assistants (RAs) are full-time students who live in the residence halls and are each responsible for a particular floor of residents. They provide support, act as a resource for students, coordinate social and educational programs, and work with one another as a staff to enforce University policy within the halls.
Graduate Ministers (GM) are full-time graduate students who are assigned to a first-year community on Upper or Newton Campus and work directly with the students and hall staff in that community. The GMs serve as conversation partners for students, are a resource and aid in connecting students with spiritual and religious life offerings available on campus and in the surrounding community, offer opportunities for prayer and reflection, and support students in the integration of their social, academic, and spiritual lives. GMs are also an integral part of the Sunday night liturgies at St. Joseph's Chapel (Upper Campus) and Trinity Chapel (Newton Campus). The Graduate Ministry Corps (GMC) is representative of both the Office of Residential Life and Campus Ministry.
Resident Ministers (RM) are full-time professionals at Boston College who also serve in this role. Many are also Campus Ministers. RMs can be Jesuits, ordained ministers, members of religious orders, or lay ministers who are assigned to and live within a residential community. The RMs serve as conversation partners and a pastoral presence for students and the residential staff in their community, offer hospitality and prayer opportunities within the halls, and serve in a 24-hour on-call rotation to respond to students in crisis and as requested. When interacting with students and staff, RMs are supporting the academic, social, and spiritual formation of those in their community. RMs are also an integral part of the Sunday night liturgies at St. Joseph's Chapel (Upper Campus) and Trinity Chapel (Newton Campus). The RMs are representatives of both the Office of Residential Life and Campus Ministry.
The staff in the Office of Residential Life at Boston College considers you, the parent, a partner in our efforts to educate each student outside of the classroom. Our focus is on the development of each individual student as they find a home here at BC.
Our most common discussions with parents are around their student’s social adjustment to college life, as well as concerns about roommates and other living situations. We understand that the transition to college can be a difficult process for both students and parents. Your student will encounter a variety of situations throughout their college years, and it is our hope to assist them as they grow and develop as young adults.
We ask that you keep the following in mind as we work together:
- While problems may arise as your student adjusts to life on campus and in the residence halls, it is important that each student take an active role in working to resolve these problems. Residential Life staff members are here to work directly with your student and facilitate the problem-solving process. Please realize that while we are happy to speak with you about concerns you have as a parent, it is very important that we work directly with the students involved. As your student will realize, direct and clear communication is the key to resolving most issues.
- Roommate conflicts always have multiple perspectives and points of view. Before taking action on a reported concern, we work to gather all perspectives and learn as much as we can about the situation. Our staff will then work directly with the students involved to help resolve the issue. Both our professional and student staff members are trained in conflict mediation skills and can often help roommates acquire necessary listening and communication skills that will assist them throughout their years of living on campus.
Life on campus can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can also be trying at times. Learning to live with someone else—especially someone who may have different habits, likes, and dislikes—can be difficult. While this is a time for your student to learn about their new roommate, it is also a time for them to learn about themselves. They will need to reflect on their own behaviors and how these actions may positively or negatively impact others.
The experience of having a roommate and making new friends can be a fundamental part of each student’s college education. It is a learning experience that will allow them to share their own experiences and gain insights from others as they form friendships and bonds in their community. The roommate experience can be successful and enjoyable, but it will take effort, compromise, and understanding on the part of both roommates. We encourage you to help your son or daughter as they manage the emotions that accompany living with a non-family member for the first time.
Some things to remind your student about include:
- Talk about ideas and feelings as well as just “things.”
- Be honest about your feelings, likes, and dislikes.
- Be willing to compromise, but know on which issues you will not compromise and on which you are willing to negotiate.
- Give your roommate the respect, consideration, and understanding you expect in return.
- Set the “tone” for talking, and set aside the appropriate amount of time for a complete conversation (five minutes before class is not the time for a heart-to-heart).
- Discuss roommate problems with your roommate, RA, or RD only, and not with just anyone who happens to be walking by.
Dealing with Roommate Problems
Problems in a shared living environment are inevitable. Your student’s success will be determined by how they respond to these conflicts—not on their ability to avoid conflicts. Our Residential Life staff members are here to assist each student as they sort through issues and concerns.
Finding Their Own Voice
It is imperative that students address these issues themselves. Although you may be tempted to take care of the problem for them by contacting Residential Life staff, the roommate, or the roommate’s family, this will not help your student learn to deal with similar situations in the future.
In addition, if you feel you must intervene in some way, we ask that you refrain from doing so without your student’s knowledge. In almost all cases, in order to reach a successful resolution to the situation, your student must be involved. This is a part of their own educational experience. Help them to navigate their way through difficult situations, but allow them to find their own path and their own voice.
If your son or daughter needs assistance in dealing with a difficult roommate situation, encourage them to speak with their RA or their Resident Director. When your student calls you with a concern about a roommate, sharing the following tips with him or her may be helpful:
- Make sure you have the facts straight.
- Be gentle, but direct. The longer you wait to confront the problem, the worse it will become.
- Expect some defensiveness, possibly even after the confrontation. Give your roommate an opportunity to think about what you have said.
- Don’t cloud the issue by checking with everyone else on the floor before you give feedback to your roommate.
- Speak only for yourself.
- Make sure you are prepared to discuss criticism that may be aimed at you. Be open minded, and remember that you may both need to compromise.
- Remain calm and do not let emotions take control. Feelings such as anger can only escalate the situation. If you are not feeling calm, or sense that anger is clouding your ability to have a productive conversation, stop and reschedule a time to talk. Or, have your RA help to facilitate the conversation.
- Listen to your roommate. Everyone wants to be heard, and only by listening to your roommate’s point of view can you understand and better resolve any conflict.
Residential Life will not take action or move students until all perspectives have been heard. Encourage your son or daughter to seek the help of the Residence Hall staff when a difficult situation arises.