‘Communication is key’ to enjoying campus housing

Carmella Jimenez/Contributing Writer

Communication is key when it comes to living on campus, according to housing officials.

Residents should try building relationships with those in their dorm building like the front desk staff, resident advisors and residence life coordinators, Yomarie Diaz, a resident life coordinator, said to Student Media.

One of the biggest resources residents don’t take advantage of during their time at FIU, she said, is the free tutoring that is provided to residential students in the housing quad during the evenings.  Students should also look to their resident advisers for guidance, she said.

Dijobri Pixley, a resident adviser and a senior majoring in Communications, describes her role in a student’s academic and social life as a support system. Resident advisors, she said, do not just direct students to resources around campus, but they also lend a ear if a student needs to vent.

“We’re here to be a resource for the residents… We’re there to be a helping hand however we can,” Pixley said.

RAs within each building also create programs within the halls for residents to meet each other and settle into their new home.

“The RAs really make an extreme effort to make the halls feel like a home, to give you the best experience and for you to feel like not only are you navigating college successfully academically, but also socially,” Diaz said.

But for Stephanie Garcia, a freshman majoring in biology, the idea of roommates is nerve wracking. Growing up as an only child, she will now have to closely share a living space with her new roommate in Panther Hall.

Living with roommates can sometimes be difficult, according to Pixley, but it’s important to always communicate when conflicts arise, especially between roommates of different backgrounds or cultures. Good roommates, Pixley said, must learn how to talk about their differences in a healthy way.

“A lot of residents try to avoid confrontation, but it doesn’t have to be a negative confrontation,” Pixley said. “It can be positive.”

Joe Paulick, the director of housing, thinks students should talk with their roommates early on about boundaries and ground rules, so RAs don’t have to mediate the situation.

“If your roommate says ‘Hey, I’m having my boyfriend or girlfriend come over for the night,’ and you say ‘no problem, come over,’ think before the first time you say that,” Paulick said. “Because the first night could be three nights.”

Shakir Claxton, a resident advisor and junior majoring in Sports and Fitness studies, also supports the idea of roommates taking the time to understand each other, especially between roommates of different cultures . Besides communicating with roommates, Claxton also thinks residents should involve themselves in the community through organizations and on-campus activities

“Even though there’s 56,000 of us[students], it can still feel like you’re alone sometimes, especially coming from international or coming from out of state or even just coming from down the street from a high school,” Claxton said. “Don’t be afraid to make new friends.”

Even if a student overcomes social anxieties, financial stress can linger. To help students work through money issues, Everglades Hall recently opened up a Housing Financial Services office as an alternative to OneStop for residential students. This office will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Students, Paulick said, should also check their Panther email regularly to keep up with payment deadlines, specifically the housing payment, which is now on the same date as the tuition deadline. Swipe access also began its debut at Panther Hall as another one of the newest housing developments at MMC, he said, with the overall goal of updating all rooms to swipe access in all residence halls.

And for students interested in trying off-campus housing in the future, Paulick recommends they find roommates, use other students for space references and ask plenty of questions before settling on a lease. 109 Tower or 4th Street Commons, he said, are FIU’s designated off-campus housing for students, but students can also refer to Classified.fiu.edu to find off-campus student housing.

Featured Photo by Nicole Malanga/PantherNow

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