My first roommate at Antioch College really missed her best friend. She missed her so much she would make tape recordings talking about her day and mail them back home to Minnesota or one of the M states. This was in addition to constantly hogging the payphone in the dorm for marathon late night chats with her BFF. She never quite warmed up to me (maybe that was a good thing). I ultimately moved to the quieter, substance free dorm. It wasn't that I was completely substance free, but I was a 20-year-old transfer student and actually wanted to study. I wonder what this best friend-obsessed roommate's Facebook would have looked like. Maybe it would have been plastered with photos of the two of them -- so many that MY MOM would have seen a big red flag and called the housing office to complain? I don't think so. But that was the early 90s.
Today's parents are evidently checking out their son or daughter's assigned roommate's Facebook profile and complaining to student housing! From this disturbing article in USA Today:
About a dozen other colleges contacted by USA Today report similar complaints. And this may be just the beginning: Some schools already have mailed roommate assignments for fall, but many more say they will be sending them out in the next few weeks.
Housing officials say parents who cite Facebook most frequently mention party-related content and photos as their primary concerns. Parents sometimes see cups in photos and make the leap to alcohol and drugs, Manetas says.
But Robin Berkowitz-Smith of Syracuse University says race, religion and sexual orientation are the top three concerns from parents contacting officials there.
Maureen Wark of Suffolk University in Boston also ranked sexual orientation as a top concern of parents. Wark recalls getting a call from a parent who had "psychological and sanitary concerns" about a student's new roommates, both of whom were gay men.
What is it about leaving the nest that these parents don't understand? Part of growing up and becoming an adult means being able to resolve your own roommate conflicts. Parents pro-actively intervening before students even get to campus does not help young people learn how to deal in a world where they will always encounter people who are different. And if your roommate's nuts? You march over to the housing office and request a new roommate. Kids have done it for ages, I think this generation can do it, too. And it worries me that some parents aren't even giving them the chance.