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Communal Living Illness Etiquette


October 20, 2011
by Jacquelene Bennett

Ah, October: Not only is it the beginning of the fall season but it’s the beginning of cold and flu season as well. No matter how amazing you think your immune system is, everybody gets sick and if you live a dorm room and have a roommate, illnesses get a little more complicated.

Ah, October: Not only is it the beginning of the fall season but it’s the beginning of cold and flu season as well. No matter how amazing you think your immune system is, everybody gets sick and if you live a dorm room and have a roommate, illnesses get a little more complicated.

When I get sick, all I want to do is lie in bed all day with the lights off and sleep but you can’t do that when living with a roommate or with roommates. Here are some tips on how to behave when you’re sick and sharing a living space:

  • If you think you are getting sick, tell your roommate. This information allows your roommate to take preventative measures against getting sick themselves and if you do actually come down with something, it won’t be a complete surprise.
  • Despite how bad you are feeling, your roommate still has a schedule and shouldn’t have to tip-toe around you. Set rules about noise levels and if it’s okay to turn the lights on when they come in and out of the room, if you are bedridden.
  • Your roommate isn’t your mother so don’t expect him or her to take care of you. Though some will offer to help you out, don’t depend on them to get your food, make you take your medicine or to talk to your professors if you are absent from class. That’s all on you – handle your responsibilities like an adult.
  • Grab the Lysol and disinfect like there is no tomorrow. Open the window, wash your sheets and wipe down all surfaces you and your roommate both come in contact with (doorknobs, light switches, mini-fridge handles, etc.) to limit the spread of germs.

It may be more work than you’re used to but your actions will not go unnoticed: If your roommate falls ill, they will remember your courtesy and return the favor.

Jacquelene Bennett is a senior at the University of Redlands where her areas of study are creative writing, government and religious studies. When she is not studying or working, you can usually find her eating frozen yogurt or blogging about her day. She has a cactus named Kat and believes that Stephen Colbert is a genius. Jacquelene works hard, laughs hard and knows that one day you’ll see her name in lights.

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