After my freshman year of college, I transferred to a different school. I’m no stranger to roommates because I went to boarding school for three years. Two out of three of those years I had roommates. However, when I went to college I was assigned a triple. I could manage one roommate, but two? Sheesh. Three people squished into a tiny dorm with no privacy at all. To make things worse, I didn’t like my roommates very much. Don’t get me wrong, I tried to like them, but they’re just not my kind of people. They acted like best frenemies. It was strange because they didn’t seem to like each other, but they spent a lot of time with each other. Sometimes they’d insult each other while smiling. For example:
“It’s not your fault you don’t have a sense of style, you’ve been wearing a uniform your entire life.”
Watching them interact was amusing, but I had no desire to interact with them. At the end of the year, I left without bidding adieu to either of them (not out of spite, neither of them were in the room and I deleted their numbers asap).
Before orientation, I accepted the fact that I’d most likely be living with a roommate. The only thing I feared was living with two roommates. Unfortunately, in early September I met my demise.
*insert dramatic music here*
I pleaded with the Housing Director for a double room instead of a triple room, attempting to explain my situation. His reply was saddening:
“I am sorry that you are not happy with your room assignment. As I am sure you understand, we need to assign waitlist students to those spaces which are available, and all preferences cannot be guaranteed. You will be able to submit a room transfer request after move in, although I strongly suggest that you give the current assignment a chance to work. There is no reason to believe just because you had a bad experience elsewhere in the past means that this will also be a bad experience.”
I couldn’t be upset with him because I was lucky to have a place to stay. He was also right about me not having a reason to believe a bad experience elsewhere meant a bad experience there. I sucked it up, and I moved in.
My two roommates were both older than me, let’s call them Jane and Jill. Jane was a senior and Jill was a junior transfer student. They invited me places, and sometimes I went, but not often. They went out late at night mostly, but I wasn’t interested in going. All they did was go to different bars and clubs. Also, Drunk Jane seemed unbearable and I refused to deal with that all night. On the other hand, Jill and I went exploring one day, and it wasn’t terrible. She surprised me. I didn’t dislike her, even though her laugh seemed forced most times.
Jane was a different case. She annoyed me from the get-go. Jane’s friends visited the room often. It only bothered me if it was late, if I was doing work, or if they were boisterous. Jane and her friends were seldom quiet. Jane’s best friend, Jack, is the eye of the hurricane.
I walked into the room one evening while Jack, Jane, Jill, and another girl were listening to music. I didn’t care about them listening to music because it was Thursday (aka the weekend). They were listening to Only by Nicki Minaj. For reference, Jack is white. He boldly sang the line “real niggas only” several times. The first time I heard him I thought I misheard him. The second time he said it I told him not to say “nigga” ever again. I surprised him. He said, “what?” and I repeated myself, but with more frustration and an additional “you don’t see me walking around calling you a fag.” *he’s gay* (I’ll come back to how I should’ve worded this differently). Then I went into the shower.
In sum, my roommates were strongly against what I did to their friend (even though I didn’t do anything). Did I mention that my R.A. is friends with Jane and Jack? They went to her and complained about my comment because they felt it was homophobic. Which, I’ll admit, I should’ve worded better. I should’ve said:
“if they were saying fags instead of niggas, you wouldn’t be comfortable with people singing that even if it is a song. “
My intention was to relate it to him so he could see the situation from my perspective. Saying things in the heat of the moment never goes as well as it should. Now I understand why it’s suggested that you cool down after a workout. If the cool down is forgotten, the greater the possibility of injury.
Over twenty-four hours later (yes, it took that long), Jane apologized on behalf of Jack. She made it clear that the apology was from her and not Jack because he doesn’t see anything wrong with saying the word, despite his whiteness. She also explained that he was offended by my comment.
It didn’t seem like much of an apology, more like a
“we’re sorry you feel that way, but …”
*cue angry black girl stereotype*
A few days later after Jack came into the room several times and said nothing to me, he came into the room and said nothing again. I waited a while and tried to reason with myself, but I couldn’t take it. He made me uncomfortable. Not because he was gay, but because he cried wolf without even acknowledging the reasoning behind my statement. I asked him to leave because he made me uncomfortable and upset. Honestly, I was fuming because I couldn’t believe he had the audacity to say absolutely nothing to me. So I asked him to leave. It took a minute, but eventually, they all left.
*He also had the audacity to ask me why I made him so uncomfortable before he left.
My R.A. came to speak to me later that evening after both of my roommates (Jill stuck to Jane like glue, a very pathetic glue) and Jack left the room. She told me that they felt as if I was acting homophobic towards Jack. I explained why I didn’t want him in the room, and that I had intentions of moving out. She decided to organize a meeting with us (excluding Jack). Another R.A. attended the meeting as well, to offer a “non-biased” opinion.
Now. The meeting. It wasn’t much of a meeting, more like a big joke. In sum, both of my roommates thought I was homophobic. They said I couldn’t just banish Jack from the room (I could though, I checked the handbook). By the end of the meeting, Jack was no longer welcome in the room when I was there. Also, the entire thing was focused on how homophobic I am (spoiler: I’m not), and how I attacked Jack which made everyone sooooo uncomfortable.
Needless to say, I eventually moved out.
*Before I moved out, I heard my roommates talking about me in the R.A’s room (she lived next door). Jane said something like:
“obviously i’m not racist. i’m a minority too, i’m hispanic.”
I just wanted to add that because I didn’t assume they were racist, but I also don’t think that being a person of color could make anyone “not-racist” towards another person of color. Believe me, I’ve had an Asian store owner follow me around her store (not even discretely).
Anywho, Shout out to Victoria for being a great roommate for the rest of the semester.
I’d be lying if I said the incident didn’t impact me. I felt less inclined to interact with people because I didn’t trust anybody. In a way, I felt disregarded and ostracized. I became cynical when it came towards college students (dramatic, I know). My goal at that point was to complete the semester. That’s all. I no longer cared about making friends or bonding with anybody. The whole thing blew up in my face. All because I decided to speak up. I guess that’s another thing that encouraged me to remain quiet.
I believe everything happens for a reason. If this didn’t happen, I never would’ve come to the realization that sometimes the calm after the storm takes longer than expected. I was quiet for a while, but not anymore. If it’s not a blessing, it’s a lesson.