Posted by Rebecca Stern
On a hazy Saratoga summer day, the students of the largest class in Skidmore's history scrambled onto campus. Excited and anxious, First Year Students and their parents poured into dorm rooms to be greeted not only by one roommate, but two.
An overwhelmin majority of the Class of 2014 is living in forced triples this semester—more than any other class in Skidmore history. Although this is not what first year students expected, Skidmore is attempting to ease the transition for the roughly 700 students forced to have awkward conversations about who gets the single bed.
Every student assigned to a forced triple received a 200 dollar compensation, available for use on his or her Skidmore ID, with a bonus to be added for those who remain in triples after October.
Associate Director of Residential Life Ann Marie Przywara said, "There are now around 180 triples on campus and it is tough to be overenrolled, but we consider this to be a good problem, seeing as the school has accommodated this unexpectedly large grade. We have hired more professors, rearranged freshmen seminars and added an extra person in health services."
In addition to the monetary reward, living in a triple allows first year students to socialize more easily.
"At first I was nervous about being in a triple – but now that I am here, I am thrilled. My roommates are two of my closest friends, and I probably never would have met them if we hadn't been placed together," Vicky Janczyk '14 said.
It's not just the students who are in triples who see it as a great social outlet. Some Residential Life staff members also find triples easier to manage, seeing as big groups usually congregate in one room.
"It's much easier for areas of hanging out. There is always someone to hang out with. The odds are better you'll make a friend," RA Carol Brown '13 said.
Although not every situation is as fortunate as Jancyzk's, there are many ways to make triples work. Posted on fliers throughout residence halls and in the student handbook are "Tips for Triples."
Dividing space and furniture equally is one way to make a cramped living situation more tolerable. If one roommate gets stuck on the top bunk, make sure they don't also get the small dresser.
Another way to ease tension is by making sure that each roommate has his or her own space. For example, one roommate may like to study in the window seat, while the other may like to work in his or her bed. By designating areas, roommates can then feel free make their own side of the room as messy or as clean as they want.
Abby Byers, ‘14, agrees, "Before we even arrived on campus, my roommates and I decided who got what – that way we avoided conflict upon arrival. And now that we're here, everything is great. We share everything from food to clothes, but we also have our own space. It's perfect!"
Roommates should also craft a "Dos and Don'ts" list for the room together. That way it is clearly outlined what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
Jay Dwyer, '14, did this with his roommates and has found it successful.
"We know we have to respect each other's space. For example, I don't care if people are on my bed, but some people do. Don't use anyone's stuff without asking – like if they want to borrow stuff, that's fine. Just be polite about it," Dwyer said.
Although it is pleasant to think that by following these guidelines life in a triple will be smooth sailing, that is simply not that case.
"Communication is key. Often times a person comes in here complaining about this or that - without mentioning it to his or her roommates ahead of time. Don't bottle it up – even if it's small. If it's still bothering you the next morning, then you should say something to your roommates immediately," Przywara.
"When stuff comes up during the year, don't complain about it to your third roommate. Talk about it openly with the entire room. And really make an effort to get to know each other," said Grace Harman '13, who lived in a triple last year
Roommates can make or break a school year, but don't be discouraged if things aren't going as planned.
"Hang out with your roommates friends. Throw tea parties and movie nights--my roommates and I did both. If you're all friends, or at least on good terms and all respect each other, life is going to be about three-million times easier," Harman said.