Campus Life

Help .... My "Non-Smoking" Roommate is a Smoker

Question: On my roommate-matching questionnaire, I wrote down that I do not smoke and expect to live with another non-smoker. I found out that the college always respects that preference, and I was assigned a non-smoking roommate... or so I thought. But then I met my roommate at orientation. She seems really nice, but later that night I saw her outside having a cigarette with some other kids. I was shy about asking if she really does smoke. Maybe it was a one-time--or just occasional-- thing, or maybe she is going to start smoking in college. I really DON'T want to share a room with a smoker. What should I do?

You have "The Dean's" sympathy. I, too, had a freshman roommate who took up the nasty habit in our first semester. Back in those days (1969) I must admit I was pretty oblivious. But if it happened to me now, I'd be ready to jump out the window. It's possible that your roomie was just trying to fit in with some new friends she met at orientation, and there will be no butts about her when she starts school for real. On the other hand, it could be that she's been a smoker all along but had to fill out the housing questionnaire under close parental scrutiny. It seems that your only options are to:


-contact the roommate pronto to tell her what you saw and how you feel about it. Maybe you'll get a "I don't know what possessed me that night" reply, and you can breathe a (smoke-free) sigh of relief.

-prevail upon the Residence Life coordinator to find you a truly match-free match

-suck it up (the situation that is, not the smoke) and hope that the roommate only smokes elsewhere (is the dorm itself smoke-free?) and keeps her stinky stuff in a separate closet

None of those approaches are ideal, but--if you've got the guts for it--the first one is probably the place to start.

Good luck!