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Jun 16 2017
by Natalie Kassar

5 Ways to Get Along with a Politically Differing Roommate

By Natalie Kassar - Jun 16 2017
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Since it's the middle of June, now is the time to find your roommate. It may seem pretty daunting at first but after all the tedious online roommate surveys, joining the college freshmen group chat online and social media stalking of your potential roommate, eventually you will find a good match. After all of this communication, you will know their taste in music, where they are from, their interests, etc. However, it is often times difficult or awkward to bring up political views until after you agree to be roommates. While political views might be a large part of your identity, navigating a roommate with opposing political views is most likely simpler than you think. Here are five things you need to know on how to best deal with that situation.

1. Show respect for their beliefs.

It really is that simple. Even if you do not agree with what they think, you owe them the common courtesy of respecting their right to believe what they do. Make it a point to listen to them and never condescend their opinion when talking politics — there are ways to disagree respectfully. College is a pretty good indication of the “real world,” and with that, you are bound to meet someone whose views are the polar opposite of your own. Learning how to respect a person’s political beliefs will undoubtedly benefit you in the future.


2. Embrace diversity in opinion.

No matter what, diversity should be embraced. Hearing out your roommate's political views, no matter how outlandish they may seem to you, is the key to accepting differing opinions. And, it is a great way to learn more about your own beliefs. By being forced to pay attention to the beliefs of others, you can discover more about what sets your point of view apart from others. Diverse beliefs should be embraced, not overlooked.


3. Mutually educate.

You never know what you may learn from your roommate. By both roommates expressing their views, it truly can be eye opening. Having an open discussion about politics can present a new point of view you would have never thought of otherwise, and can help you to grow in your political adeptness and personal knowledge.


4. "Bite your tongue."

It is inevitable that every once in a while you or your roommate might cross the line. Sometimes in a moment of passion over a controversial topic, one of you may get a little too heated over the opposing views. You or your roommate might think, "Did he/she really just say that?" So, when that situation occurs, stop and set a boundary. Make a note to avoid that topic in the future, because when you are having to live with someone, you have to recognize when it is not worth the fight.


5. What to do when things seem unrepairable.

For some reason, you and your roommate took things a little (or a lot) too far and now you can feel the tension. The only thing possible to do is be the bigger person. It is hard to apologize first for the debate that went too far, especially if you sincerely believe you are right. But, unless you want to spend the rest of the school year with awkward tension, swallow your pride and be the first to apologize. This does not mean you are apologizing for your beliefs, just for taking the argument past the point it should have gone.

College is a big melting pot full of people from a variety of backgrounds, political views and values. It is healthy to be surrounded by differing perspectives and that is the best way to grow. So, even if that person is your roommate, it can be a good thing. Take it as a chance to learn more about other beliefs and your own, improve your debating skills and learn how to handle others you may not get along with. 

Lead Image Credit: Ben Garratt via Unsplash 


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Natalie Kassar -

Member of Fresh U Politics Team. Cal Poly Pomona 2021

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