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Tips on Successful Community Living

Whether you are placed in a Carman double, share bathrooms or lounge space in John Jay, Furnald, or Wallach, or live in a suite in Hartley, you will learn the importance of community agreements and compromise.  As you settle into your community, your new home away from home, your Resident Assistant (RA) will facilitate shared community expectations and encourage roommate and/or suitemate agreements. 

Here are some tips for a successful transition into community living in the Columbia residence halls:

  • Get to know your neighbors.  You need to know more than just the names and hometowns of the folks living on your hall.  Ask questions. Learn about everyone on the hall, not just folks you connect with immediately. It helps to know about their experiences prior to Columbia to understand the perspective someone brings and how or why they may behave in a particular way.  Making a request of someone you have developed a relationship with is easier than requesting something from someone you would consider a stranger.
  • Talk directly about your needs.  You have a responsibility to speak up for yourself. You may keep your expectations or needs to yourself at first thinking you don't want to “start off on the wrong foot.”  You might mention to your RA, or text your best friend, or vent to a family member that someone two doors away returns to the hall at 2:00 a.m. every morning, slams the door, and wakes you up. Behavior will not change if someone is not aware of the impact the behavior is having on someone else.  Talk to your neighbor directly during the day and not when you are in the height of your emotional reaction!
  • Be reasonable with your requests.  Living in community is not only about your needs. Prior to Columbia, you may have experienced absolute silence at bedtime or a bathroom in impeccable condition at all times.  In a residence hall, there may be noise in a lounge or hallway, and students who aren’t impacted by the same level of noise as you are. We recommend talking directly to the person who is slamming the door each night as s/he may be unaware they are waking you up. If the person is unreasonable or unwilling to try and close the door more quietly, consult your RA for additional brainstorming. 

There are a variety of staff within Residential Programs who can assist if you need support beyond your RA.  You can also connect with your Community Adviser (CA), your Graduate Hall Director (GHD), or your Associate Director (AD).  The names and contact information for these folks are posted in your residence hall.

Residential Life


515 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-6805

Fax: (212) 854-6815

Office Hours

9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.