Those of you living in a college dorm are part of a unique community. Being a part of any community means being respectful and kind, and basically loving our neighbors like Jesus said (Mark 12:31). Here are some ways to be a good member of your dorm community.
Meet the neighbors, then keep in touch.
At this point, you’ve been in your dorm for a few weeks. The first week you no doubt saw a lot of your neighbors. You probably stopped by their rooms, said hello, and told yourself that you would be spending a lot of time with them since they were such nice people. But now? All those good intentions seem get lost in the hustle of classes, work, and extracurriculars. They’re still your neighbors though, so take a little effort to have a conversation, stop by with snacks, and get to know them more. Who knows? Maybe someone has a textbook you can borrow, or would like to join your fantasy football league.
Get to know the RAs.
RAs (Resident Assistants) aren’t just around to make name tags for your door and check for contraband once a semester. They’ve also been given training, which makes them a great resource to find out what’s going on around campus, from tutoring and counseling, to intramurals and concerts. They’ve also often have training in conflict management, so if you have a problem go to them for help. Dealing with issues as they arise and not letting them fester helps keep any community healthy.
Attend dorm events.
Remember what I said about getting to know your neighbors? Dorm events can be a great way to do that. Pumpkin painting, playing board games, and learning how to use your laundry detergent as a weight when you exercise are all great ways to spend time with your community.
Turn down the noise, turn down the funk.
Some dorms have rules about noise; some do not. Even if your dorm doesn’t have any rules, try to be respectful. Midnight on a Wednesday isn’t the time to be playing loud music with your door open. Somebody may have a test or work the next day. Save it for the weekend.
Keep it clean.
Now that you’re in college no one’s going to force you to do any laundry, or dishes, or clean up after yourself. But keep in mind that your failure to wash your towels and gym clothes for an entire semester can actually affect the rest of the people in your dorm. The basement hallway in my dorm reeked of b.o. so badly that whenever I had to walk through it I would literally start gagging. I’m not going to say this recommendation applies more to anyone group, because that would be sexist.*
Don’t leave the popcorn.
Last, but certainly not least, whatever you do, under no circumstances should you ever leave the microwave popcorn unattended. Unattended popcorn never ends well. Best case scenario the common room smells like burnt popcorn for a week. Worst case scenario the fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night in the middle of winter and your entire dorm has to wait outside in their pajamas and flip flops while the fire department inspects the building.** You do not want to be the person that caused that.
*But it’s totally the gentlemen. Sorry guys.
**Yes, this happened in my dorm. The whole place smelled for two weeks and the second floor had no microwave for the rest of the year.