Surprise! Meet your new roommate

Three female students were surprised when they found a stranger’s belongings in their John Paul II room during January term. According to the four women, Residence Life did not notify the students about their new roommate before she had arrived.

“I wasn’t really sure what was going on,” sophomore Kelsey Hansen said. “I had got a notification e-mail the day after she moved in.”

Sophomore Nicole Neumann, who also lives in the room, said she also was surprised.

“It is an uncomfortable situation knowing that you have hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars sitting in a room anybody and everybody can have access to at any time,” Neumann said.

Sophomore Alison Inhelder and freshman Briggs LeSavage are among 150 women who live in John Paul II residence hall. (Hannah Anderson/TommieMedia)

Hansen said she was nervous.

“Who knows how long the room was unlocked for?” Hansen said. “Everything I own was there. Someone could have taken something.”

Bryan Helminiak, assistant director of Residence Life, said that during J-term, 150 students changed room assignments, and 24 women were moved from lounges into rooms for the spring semester.

He said the errors could have been technical.

“We always use St. Thomas e-mail accounts,” Helminiak said. “Sometimes students have their St. Thomas account forward e-mails to other e-mail accounts such as Hotmail or Gmail, which could have caused the mistake.”

About 2,500 students live on campus. “This year we have heard more grumblings than ever because of the lack of space to move everyone,” Helminiak said.

Helminiak said Residence Life told students in December to have to have their space ready for new roommates by J-term.

Freshman Brittney Schubert moved into a new room during J-term and said her roommates were not notified. She said she did not receive contact information for her new roommates.

“I asked a couple different times in e-mails for the contact information for my roommates and never got them,” Schubert said. “The day after I moved in, I got an e-mail from the hall director with the contact information.”

Helminiak said Residence Life responded to the situation.

“When contacted by these students, we immediately got information to them as soon as possible, and an apology was issued by the hall staff,” Helminiak said.

A second roommate complication occurred two floors below in JPII. Sophomore Leah Olson said Residence Life told her she was moving into a room with two other women, but it was actually three others.

“When Residence Life sends my room e-mails, only three of the four roommates receive them,” Olson said. “Residence Life believes only three of us are living in my room.”

When asked about the JPII incidents, Helminiak said, “I am aware of only one instance. I can tell you that our policy is that we notify students when new roommates are assigned.”

Helminiak added: “If you have a funky situation, just let Residence Life know. Visit the Res Life site or call.”

Hannah Anderson can be reached at

6 Replies to “Surprise! Meet your new roommate”

  1. I am sorry that this happened to these girls.  I know how frustrating this can be:  Res Life almost the exact same thing to me last year.  They notified me at 2:15pm on day that I would have a roommate moving in that afternoon.  At the time I was about to go into my class in BEC and had left all of my tax information sitting on the coffee table in the living room of my Flynn Suite.  
    Needless to say, I wasn’t happy.  Getting a new roommate is a major change to Life in Residence here at St. Thomas.  It would be nice if the organization in charge of making these changes easier would actually make these changes easier.

  2. Yeah, I have to say I’ve had pretty ridiculous experiences with Residence Life as well. This article reminds me of my sophomore year, when I had no idea two other girls had decided against living in my Morrison apartment until I got my roommate assignment, which not only precluded me from asking to room with friends that I knew needed a place to live, but also forced my remaining friend and I to stay in the double bedroom while the two new roommates were placed in the singles. It wasn’t the end of the world by any means and we made it work, but it was fairly obnoxious as my friend and I wished we could have asked for the double to be filled. I was kind of surprised that we weren’t consulted at all about the new roomies or even notified. I know that Res Life is in charge of the residences but I think students should be able to feel some degree of ownership over the room(s) they are paying through the nose for. Clearly, both the girls in the article and Mr. Thomas have had that compromised at some point in the past, as did I, and a variety of incidents like reflects badly on Res Life.

    I haven’t lived on campus since the middle of my sophomore year and not dealing with Res Life was a big part of that decision.

  3. This doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I have had bad experiences with Res Life every single year I’ve been here. Believe me, they will never get it right the first time. In a list of the worst administrative departments at UST, Res Life barely misses the top spot to our police force wannabes, Public Safety.

  4. This is a great article! Residence Life has had to overcome many obstacles with housing this year with the great numbers of freshmen students. Hopefully the wonderful environment and community at St. Thomas will enable the new roommates to be comfortable and feel welcome in their new residence halls!

  5. There is no accountability for an organization like Res Life. Most students live in a particular building for only a year, so, there is no incentive for Res Life to take any complaint seriously.  So… Cretin’s rat infestation gets continually ‘fixed’ with crappy mouse traps. Flynn’s insulation and heating problems are ignored. Poor RA’s completely ignore their duties while good RA’s are fired for missing a single meeting with the Hall Director. Clearly, I have a serious bone to pick with Res Life. Eventually, I’d like to write down all my grievances, and submit them to this lovely new-website. However, for now, I’ll just leave you with this. Many people think that campus life at UST sucks because its a suitcase school. I generally think the causations runs the other way.

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