Living with and learning to live with a roommate is an important part of the Grinnell College experience. Students learn the necessary lifetime skills of negotiation, compromise, and communication when living with a peer. Through the roommate experience, students develop friendships that last a lifetime; appreciate diversity of experiences, talents, and cultures; and develop a sense of belonging to the Grinnell Community. Because the roommate experience is an integral part of the Grinnell experience, incoming first-year students will have (at least) one roommate; returning second-year students will also have (at least) one roommate.

Selecting a roommate requires careful thought, patience, and time and begins long before April room draw. Current first-year students are encouraged to start making roommate arrangements early — well before room draw.


Students leave the College for various reasons throughout the semester, which may result in a vacancy within a student room.  A first- or second-year student with a vacancy in their room must find a new roommate, or move in with someone also in need a roommate. This process is called willing consolidation. Approximately two weeks after classes begin, the Residence Life department provides students the information needed to begin the consolidation process. Students are given a time frame in which to consolidate. 

If students in need of a roommate fail to consolidate or do not willingly engage in the process, the director of Residence Life may assign students to a new room/space. This is an assigned consolidation. Once assigned a new room/space, students will be given a deadline by which to complete their move. 

Room Changes

Students are expected to discuss expectations and work out differences and disagreements with their roommate(s). Sometimes students can do this on their own; often this requires the help of the resident life coordinator. When a roommate relationship enters into a period of negotiation, conflict, or disagreement, students are expected to work with their RLC to establish a better living situation between the roommates. In most cases, students and the hall staff will work through the situations, agree on standards of behavior, and set expectations for the roommate relationship. This requires time and a commitment to make it work. In rare situations, living arrangements do not work out for various reasons. After working with the roommate and RLC in the manner previously mentioned, the roommates and RLC may begin a conversation regarding a room change. The following steps are required for a student to be considered for a room change:

  1. The roommates speak with each other about the living situation and work out a living agreement that works for all students involved.
  2. If this does not work, then roommates speak with a residence life coordinator and set concrete objectives for resolving the issues, changing the undesired behaviors, and exhibiting respect for the roommate relationship. 
  3. If the RLC feels there is adequate need for a room change, the RLC will work through the room change process with all roommates involved.

Remember: A room freeze is in effect the first two weeks of the semester and any room changes needed in that window require direct approval from the director of Residence Life.

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