Dorms Declassified: Roommates

img_4838From Left to Right: Your’s truly, Kaylan Williams (aka the best freshman roommate ever!)

Hello! My name is Alejandra (Ali) Gatas Johnson and I will be your for Dorms Declassified: Brown Survival Guide blogger.  Living in a dorm with a roommate was one of the things that I was most excited but also nervous about for college. This blog is to help ease the concern and provide insight on residential life at Brown.

Besides slumber parties and camps, I had no experience with dorming or rooming with others (I am an only child). In the month before Move-In Day my freshman year, I had searched the Internet for clues on what dorm life was like at Brown, and I intensely Facebook stalked my roommate when roommate pairings were released. Thankfully my nervousness was not needed. Since moving in, I have honestly loved every part of dorm life and grown really close to my roommate. If you are feeling nervous like I was, worry no more— here is a quick guide to dorm life!

The System

Every freshman is guaranteed housing and lives in one of the all-freshman dorms in Pembroke campus, Keeney Quad, or Wayland arch. The size of the dorm varies. Each dorm has residential peer leaders (RPLs) that are upperclassmen resources living in the dorm with you. Within each dorm, the students are divided into units that are on average 20-30 students, which form smaller communities within the larger dorm community.


More likely than not, you will have one roommate in a double room. Roommates are assigned freshman year based on a survey released by the Residential Life office. The survey includes general questions like “How messy are you?” “When do you wake up?” “Do you study in your room?” etc. From these answers, Res Life pairs incoming freshmen.  More often than not surprisingly, this very general survey works out! I had heard so many horror stories about freshmen roommates from friends and family, but fear not roommates on average work out. If I were to have been able to create the ‘perfect’ roommate for myself as far as personality, habits, life styles, etc. I would have created my real life roommate, Kaylan. We both had absurd time schedules (There was a solid 3 days that neither of us saw sunlight… Sleeping during the day and working/being awake at night). We never had a single argument or passive aggressive conversations. It was like heaven.

While, of course, this is not the case for everyone, it is proof that the Brown roommate pairings can work. I do, however, know some people that had horrendous roommate situations, but luckily after the first month of being at Brown, you can petition for a room change and get out of the situation. Furthermore, at the beginning of the semester, all roommates complete a Roommate Agreement that specifies cleanliness, guest, living expectations to have a contractual agreement about how to manage the room.

All in all, don’t fret! Rooming situations work out in the end. This is one of the few times in your life that you will live with a bunch of people around the same age as you. Enjoy and make the most of it! You may even end up rooming with your new best friend! Throughout the year, I will be addressing living experiences and residential life in this blog. Stay tuned! Until next week!

If you have comments or questions about this column or anything related to Brown, please email me at 


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