Editorial: Being roommates requires respecting privacy, having trust

Editorial Board

If there’s one thing our college experience teaches us, it is that we must learn to accept the differences we have with our classmates. Even more so, our beliefs, values and mannerisms are exposed the moment we acquire a roommate. But how much exposure is too much?

Roommate characterizations can range from the obsessive-compulsive to the lazy and irresponsible. Eventually personalities clash, and inevitably there is conflict. If this conflict is not addressed early on, it can lead to horrible consequences.

Dharun Ravi, a freshman from Rutgers, is currently dealing with the full force of these consequences. Ravi is undergoing trial for secretly filming his roommate, Tyler Clementi, in an encounter with another man. Ravi posted the video online, which the prosecution say led to Clementi’s decision to commit suicide. Ravi never discouraged Clementi’s sexuality and, according to his fellow classmates, did not even address the issue at hand.

The prosecution has deemed Ravi’s actions as “malicious and criminal.” The defense claims it was merely a “stupid mistake,” and that Ravi is not homophobic. Ravi’s intentions may have been innocent and without maliciousness, but his acts held severe weight. This serves as a harsh reminder to the importance of respect for one another.

While the issue itself transcends normal privacy, as it concerns sexuality, we should nonetheless reflect upon the severity of violating personal privacy. This incident seems to be relatively indicative of a prevalent issue in universities. The issue concerns the trust we have in our roommates, or lack thereof, to honor each other’s space.

Entering freshmen often are randomly paired with their first roommate. This ushers in new perspectives and experiences, which may cause apprehension and discomfort. It takes quite some time before we can accept that we have different lifestyles that contrast and conflict. This is an important stage in our lives, and it is imperative that we develop healthy relationships with the people we interact with on a daily basis. This very process of immersion is reflected in the communities we will live in and the employees we will work with.

You may dislike, maybe even hate, your roommate’s habits, but remember that is who they are. If you are bothered by your roommate’s actions, there are simple ways to solve the problem. Addressing the issue should not involve retaliation, or in the case of Ravi, humiliation. Instead, confront the issue and compromise with your roommate.

We violate the trust we have in each other because we are too afraid to confront important issues. Such failures reverberate to other aspects of our life and, in Ravi’s case, decide our future.