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The Roommate Who Won't Lock the Door

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The Roommate Who Won't Lock the Door Photo courtesy of Petr Kovar, Stock.Xchng Photos
Question: The Roommate Who Won't Lock the Door
Every college parent gets a call at some point about a roommate problem. But this one can have more serious consequences: "My roommate never locks the door." What can a parent do to help?
Answer: Most of the time, parents need to let their children sort out their college roommate issues on their own. You can murmur sympathetically and offer some gentle nudges, but it's your child's problem to fix. This one, however, carries some potentially serious consequences. Unlocked dormitory doors are a security risk. If it's a door to the outside, anyone can come in, which places everyone in the dorm at risk and, if that's not enough to motivate a change of roommate behavior, jeopardizes the roommate's housing contract. The more common problem, however, is an unlocked dorm room door, which opens the door, so to speak, to theft.
  • First, ask how your child has tried to resolve the issue. Has he talked to his roommate? Have they discussed the potential theft issue?

  • If that hasn't worked, there are two next steps - the first is for your child to protect his belongings. That means taking his laptop with him or safeguarding it in the room, by stashing it out of sight and/or using a laptop lock. Dorm insurance may be a good idea too.

  • Second, your child's dorm RA can help here. At some colleges, RAs check doors as a matter of course, and some go as far as to enter, take something and leave a note that says, basically, "Had I been a less ethical person, your laptop would be gone forever. Come talk to me and you can get your laptop back." Urge your child to get his RA's help in dealing with this, whether it's forgetfulness or something more cavalier.

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