Julia Maher ’23
There seems to be an issue with unhealthy roommate situations in colleges, and Holy Cross is no exception. Many people have suffered from horrible roommate experiences, and some can even be classified as bullying. Although the victims suffer from severe emotional pain, the Office of Residence Life and Housing does not proactively advocate for and support them in their journey toward seeking refuge.
First, the Office of Residence Life and Housing often does not believe students who are suffering from an unhealthy roommate situation. They often rely on victim-blaming instead of actively caring for the students and demonstrating an effort to remove them from a dangerous situation. Due to their lack of urgency, students’ safety and mental health suffer drastically. Additionally, the Counseling Center is very backlogged right now, which means that the victims do not have anywhere to turn.
Second, they rely on RAs to handle these situations, which should actually be solved by mental health professionals. RAs are not well-trained to deal with most roommate issues because they only have minimal training before school starts, and they do not have any professional knowledge of mental health or mediation skills. Often, roommate mediation does not even work, especially if the perpetrator is unwilling to compromise their behavior for the safety and wellbeing of their roommate.
Third, once Housing actually takes the situation seriously, which often takes weeks or even months, the victims are forced to move by themselves to their new dorm with no help in moving their belongings, in order to remove themselves from the unhealthy situation. Generally, they do not require the perpetrator to relocate, which glorifies the bully and empowers them to target the next victim. Housing often has misplaced empathy for the bully instead of the victim. Since the perpetrator is never reprimanded and the victim is punished instead, the perpetrator will not change their behaviors and will start bullying their next victim, who probably had moved out of another unhealthy situation only to enter a new one. It is a vicious cycle.
Holy Cross needs serious preventative housing reform to minimize unhealthy roommate situations. If students bully their roommates and put them at danger, then they should be punished by having to move into a single room, and they should be required to have a psychological evaluation by the Counseling Center to find out what kind of therapy they need to socially adjust to college better. This will prove effective and will prevent further incidents from escalating. Housing, it is absolutely crucial that you address these behavioral and safety issues and punish the perpetrators instead of the victims. If you are letting the perpetrators off easy, what message are you sending to them, and how does that reflect the mission of Holy Cross and also your specific mission statement?