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When roommates go bad—evil girlfriends, noise, cooking adventures

March 15th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By David Bowman

Going to college can be a great experience. Students meet new friends and experience adventures that they would never have had if they didn’t attend. Some experiences, however, might be best not to have had. These can be extremely traumatic events or can be as simple as a bad roommate.

Jason Burtoch, 27, was a student at Salt Lake Community College who had a bad roommate experience. The roommate wasn’t the real problem, he said—it was the roommate’s girlfriend.

“I hated her with a passion,” Burtoch said. “Every time she came over to hang out with my roommate I would just swell up anger and I would want to break something.”

Burtoch said he couldn’t stand seeing her any more, so he decided to call his parents, who owned the duplex he was sharing with his friend, and had him evicted. He hasn’t spoken with his former friend since.

Bad roommates can happen to anyone. You’d think that having a friend for a roommate would be an easygoing experience, but Burtoch’s example might make you want to think twice before jumping into living with a friend.

Ethan Szpindor, 21, is a chemical nutrition major at USU who constantly complains to his friends about one of his roommates. This roommate is a friend, but he only knew him for about year before living together.

“It started out great at first, but I think he forgets how loud he talks at night,” Szpindor said. “I have a 7:30 a.m. class, and he stays up until 6 in the morning yelling at his computer while he plays video games.

“I’ve talked to him about it and he gets better about it for a few days but then the cycle just continues.” Szpindor said.

Not all bad roommate experiences involve friends. Bryce Chamberlain, 25, a USU math graduate, remembers one of his roommates while living in the dorms on campus. This roommate was a foreign exchange student and overall things were great—the roommate kept to himself most of the time. But the issue was cooking.

“He would come out of his room wearing a stained white t-shirt and very short blue shorts, and would pour water into a wok and leave the kitchen while it boiled,” he said. “He would then forget about the water and it would completely evaporate.

“There other times that we would forget he had food cooking and would set the smoke alarms off in the dorm,” Chamberlain said. “My other roommate and I counted that he forgot that he had food cooking 24 times in one semester. We were afraid that he would burn the building down.”

A bad roommate can really come from anywhere. Most of the time, students can’t choose their roommates. When a freshman first comes to college and moves into a dorm, the university picks roommates for them. This could be a great experience for the freshman because they will meet someone new and they won’t have expectations of their new roommates.

There are plenty of friends who have lived together and had a great time. This is not rare, it just doesn’t happen often.

“I ended up getting an apartment with one of my former roommates and we had a blast,” Chamberlain said. “We built our friendship off of being roommates and I think that’s why we were able to be great friends and good roommates to each other.”



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