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Potential roommate problem

ctymomteacherctymomteacher Posts: 977Registered User Member
edited July 2005 in Parents Forum
I could use advice from those with experience. My son has been assigned a roommate whose website links to some pretty scary stuff--anti-Semitic garbage, among other less offensive political crap. Now, my son is strong and thinks for himself. He loves a good argument, and he's dealt with bigots before. But he hasn't had to live with them, and he's always been able to come home to (relative!) sanity. I really hate the thought of his having to room with this guy. However, he would be deeply offended at my interfering with the situation, even though the school would probably respond if I did. I don't intend to, but what do I do to convince my son that if he runs into trouble, he shouldn't try to handle it on his own?

Is there anything any of you can advise me to do here?
Post edited by ctymomteacher on
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Replies to: Potential roommate problem

  • minimini Posts: 26,431Registered User Senior Member
    Sigh. I had one of those 30 years ago (though it was mostly anti-African American; his mother was the overt anti-Semite.) I presume your son has seen all of this stuff? I can tell you I was very, very badly prepared for it, handled it poorly, and was miserable about it for a year (but then I had a difficult year of adjustment, which I probably would have had in any case.) The flipside is that you (or your son) could decide that said roommate could change. Many folks do when they go off to college.

    Some colleges handle this kind of stuff well - most (in my limited experience) extremely poorly. It's more a matter of what advisors/bureaucrats you happen to run into, than one of institutional policy.

    Anyhow, he has to decide whether, given what he knows, to act now, or to just let it ride.

    (p.s. small college? large? state u?)
  • hazmathazmat Posts: 8,435User Awaiting Email Confirmation Senior Member
    So what type of website would cause you to act now?? Pro mutilation, Pro pornography? Pro violence of some sort? Snuff sex? I guess I find your reluctance to contact the institution ahead of arrival on campus to be lack of question regarding character issues of this student. You are much cooler about this than I myself would be and I am fairly liberal. Feeling or believing a certain way is one thing........hosting a website is another IMO.
  • ctymomteacherctymomteacher Posts: 977Registered User Member
    Small uni--my impression is that it would be very rersponsive. However, my son actually has a gleam in his eye over this because he loves to debate people he thinks are wrong. He's good at it, too. However, he has no experience of trying it away from home and among a large group of people who could be a threat to him, nor while living with such a person. That's what troubles me.

    OTOH, as you suggest, the roommate could change, and I have brought that up with him. But this kid seems to be pretty firmly entrenched, associated with more than one group, etc. I can only hope that's still a possibility.

    In any case, HE won't act. He thinks it could be fun to challenge the kid. It's his mother who's worried, and I CAN'T act!

    Thank you for your response.
  • ctymomteacherctymomteacher Posts: 977Registered User Member
    hazmat, where did I say anything about mutilation or porn?? I said anti-semitism, bigotry. That's what I meant. Or perhaps you're simply mocking my concern?
  • hazmathazmat Posts: 8,435User Awaiting Email Confirmation Senior Member
    I am NOT mocking your concern I am reinforcing your concern. My question was "what" type of website would motivate you to action......not placing a value judgement on your concern. I am posing a hypothetical to demonstrate that there might be a "potential problem" which may cause you to action and what might that be....a way of showing you that action is appropriate.

    You are a mom and a teacher yet you don't distinguish the hypothetical???
  • lderochilderochi Posts: 2,035Registered User Senior Member
    Really frustrating. If it's the college I'm thinking of (vaguely recall some earlier posts) I'm also a little surprised, as their students should definitely be more intelligent and above that sort of thing. Just let your S know that debating is not always the best solution, and ratcheting up the conflict could really cause some problems.
  • ctymomteacherctymomteacher Posts: 977Registered User Member
    I am certainly capable of distinguishing hypothetical situations, etc... The point is that my son is a very strong and independent adult and would be, as I said already, deeply offended at my interference. I thought that was clear enough already and so was asking for advice from other parents based on the awkwardness of my position on the outside.
  • dmd77dmd77 Posts: 7,680Registered User Senior Member
    I must say, I'd call the school right away. Anyone who is angry enough to create an anti-anything web site scares me.
  • hazmathazmat Posts: 8,435User Awaiting Email Confirmation Senior Member
    So you are choosing to leave the school out of it...contact an organization or community leader....they can advise you perhaps. Many campuses have organizations that serve the population and may know of other situations. But as you are asking for parental comment I excuse myself.
  • laxmomlaxmom Posts: 1,449Registered User Senior Member
    I guess I'm looking at this differently - when will you allow your son to handle things himself? He is going off to college where by now he should be self-sufficient. If he says he can handle it - let him! You said yourself, he would be offended if you stepped in. If he asks for your help, then step in.
  • reasonabledadreasonabledad Posts: 885Registered User Member
    Just thinking out loud, but couldn't your son "get the lay of the land" in the first week, and then switch if the situation is intolerable? I think I would hesitate to overrule my son if he understood the problem and had "a gleam in his eye" to argue the roommate into the right views (something my son would also try to do in the same situation). I'm struggling with the issue, but in your place I would monitor closely and support my son, while letting him either succeed or fail in his decision to accept the bigoted roommate.

    Is it a given that your son would be able to switch rooms if the roommate's website were made known to the university? If so, he has an escape hatch if he needs one...
  • ctymomteacherctymomteacher Posts: 977Registered User Member
    Actually, dmd, the kid's website LINKS to the anti-semitic site. He himself is not the author of the nasty stuff. I'm not sure that's a distinction with a significant difference.

    laxmom, while I appreciate your reponse, why do you ask when I will allow him to handle things? Did I not say that I could not act and that is why I am worried?

    Reasonabledad, my son and I were just talking about the whole thing again, and he is enthusiastic about sticking with the situation and arguing with the guy. (I could almost feel sorry for the other kid!) I have no idea whether there is any sort of safety hatch if it doesn't work out, but he won't hear of changing now, so that's that, I guess. I think I WILL contact the school and at least ask about policy.

    hazmat, I didn't intend to "shut you up." I was just pointing out that I was looking for the voice of experience as an outsider in the situation. Thanks for your heartfelt input.
  • hazmathazmat Posts: 8,435User Awaiting Email Confirmation Senior Member
    No problem here. Keep the dialogue with your son going. While his desire is admirable it may turn ugly and strategize for a graceful exit.....that is my suggestion. Hopefull your son will develop other allies in his endeavor and there is some safety in numbers of folks assessing the situation....other students who may also take offense.
  • momofdztmomofdzt Posts: 56Registered User Junior Member
    perhaps it's just me, but I think that anyone who is not just bigoted but so bigoted they create a website espousing bigotry is dangerous, and not just dangerous, but unbalanced. After all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand how socially unacceptable this is --how it will be received. Anyone who aggressively and publicly broadcasts these views in the situation in which they are applying to and about to attend college has to have a screw loose, big-time. If it were MY son, the clinical nature of this would disturb me even more than the bigotry (and we are Jewish.) And while your son may feel he is an adult, the fact is that he probably is not used to dealing with someone who may be psychiatrically disturbed.

    Starting college is hard enough without having to deal with this.I would step in and make sure my son were assigned another roommate.

    Are you paying for college? Do you financially support your son? If so, you still have some input here --this is an extreme situation, and your son may just be too young to understand the implications, and the trouble he could be buying into.
  • hazmathazmat Posts: 8,435User Awaiting Email Confirmation Senior Member
    momofdzt=my concern exactly. Posturing of this sort in a public fashion at this critical time in his life......this all points to personality disorder and other psychiatric disturbance.....neither of which is a quick fix. In and Out counseling will not fix this and under pressure folks like this become worse and unpredictable. These are the reasons to worry.....not the anti semitic stuff that is just an opinion and bias. What you are describing is sick behavior. How does this university intervene in the circumstance of psychiatric illness....perhaps only when the patient becomes harmful to self? In which case you are stuck. In which case you are trapped by privacy issues.
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