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A message from Randy Tarkington, senior director of Residential Experience


I still remember the anticipation and excitement of moving away to college. A lot of the car ride to campus was spent thinking about having a roommate. Would we get along? Would we become great friends? To this day, I can tell you every college roommate I had—and stories about them. There is nothing like living on a college campus, and nowhere is better than The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons at Vanderbilt.

I am sure your student has more than a few questions about roommates. Here are some suggestions you could share with them.

Get to know your roommate. Once you learn who your roommate(s) will be, begin to discuss who is bringing what. Space in rooms is valuable, so a little coordination goes a long way.

Establish some rules to live by. Roommates should learn about one another’s study and sleeping habits, visitors in the room and other topics regarding life styles. Good communication goes a long way in all healthy relationships, and that certainly is true for college roommates. Upon move in, residents will be encouraged to complete a roommate pact that guides them in developing their own set of rules.

Try to work through any tough times. When things get difficult, the first response should not be moving to another room. If problems persist, your student should talk to the resident adviser (RA) or the area coordinator (AC). The AC and RA will walk through the roommate contract developed at the beginning of the year to see how their previous agreement is working or not working and what needs to be modified. If it is clear the roommate situation is not one that will work, the AC with the help from our assignments office will approve a room change. Vacancies are few, and a new room may mean moving to another house, which most students do not want to do. The fact is that once students move into their room, floor and house, they really like it and want to stay.

I suggest that parents, as much as possible, be good listeners, but let your student resolve their roommate issues while you offer appropriate support and guidance.  The RA, AC and our main office staff are here to support you and your student offering suggestions and empowering your student to navigate their first year successfully.

The Ingram Commons is a special place. Walk the halls with your child on Move-in Day and meet the students who will be their neighbors. These may very well become friends they will have for the rest of their lives. Meet the RA who lives on the floor. Encourage your student to attend Commons-wide events. Living and learning on campus is a key part of the Vanderbilt experience, and we want it to be a very positive one. We are here to assist you and your student throughout their four years here.

For more information, check out the University Resources and Services Fair, as well as meetings with academic undergraduate deans in the four schools, all after you’ve helped your student move in on Saturday, August 18. We will see you in August!


Randy Tarkington
Senior Director, Residential Experience