When it’s 2 a.m. on a weeknight and you have an exam the next day, you know that you need to be in bed, get a good night’s sleep and not watch TV, so you do exactly that. Too bad your neighbors don’t—they’re blasting music as loud as it will go, they’re talking loudly—and is that their trash chilling outside of their doorway?
Rude neighbors are as inevitable in college as the first-day-of-school struggle bus, but that doesn’t mean you have to take it like a doormat. HC talked to collegiettes from all around the country as well as Nicole Breen, a former resident adviser (RA) at Assumption College, to find out the best ways to deal with your nuisance neighbors.
Pick your battles
We get it—trying to fall asleep to bumping music is super hard, no matter what day of the week or what time at night it is. But before knocking on your neighbor’s door or complaining to your RA about the loud noise, think to yourself: “Is this complaint reasonable?”
If you’re complaining about the music playing or the loud giggles you hear intermittently at 10 p.m. on a weekend, then your complaint probably isn’t reasonable. Remember that this is college, and although you have the right to fall asleep at whichever time you want on whichever night you want, your neighbors also have the right to wind down after a long week by having a fun time with friends.
If the noise really bothers you, try turning on your fan or listening to some calming music through your headphones. The steady noise will lull you to sleep and drown out any distracting sounds from the surrounding rooms.
Weekend noise stops being okay when it persists after a certain time. We suggest knowing your dorm-issued “quiet hours” and holding your neighbors accountable. If they keep partying past the start of weekend quiet hours, it’s okay to knock on your neighbor’s door or go to your RA about the excessive noise.
Remember that college involves a lot of give and take. You might be used to the peace and quiet of your bedroom and home, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get used to the sounds of partying and loud talking from the room next door. Growing this thick skin and learning how to pick your battles with your neighbors will help make you a good neighbor.
Things that you’ll want to let go are music on weekend nights, intermittent laughter and the sound of your upstairs neighbors walking around. The things that aren’t so cool on your neighbors’ part are constant yelling and music blasting on weeknights or during exam periods.
Talk to your neighbors yourself
We suggest trying this method first. College is your first foray into the adult world, so you have to start dealing with your problems in an adult way. That means don’t be a tattletale to the RA when your problems with your neighbors are trivial. They’ll respect you more for it.
Former RA Nicole thinks mediating the issue yourself is the best way to go. “Peer-to-peer mediation is difficult, but I do encourage it,” she says. “I've seen neighbors become friends from it, actually. I always would advise my residents to try to address things on their own before getting myself or another RA involved, with the exception of extreme cases.”
Extreme cases can include neighbors blasting music during weeknights or yelling obnoxiously all day, every day. However, most of the time your neighbors don’t even know that they’re being too loud, so a simple reminder like a knock on the door will probably be enough to get them to turn the volume down.
“My freshman year, I lived below these kids who are super loud,” says Renee, a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “They had loud music, yelled all the time and walked wicked loud. Once we talked to them about it, they told us just to bang on the ceiling whenever they were getting too loud, and they would quiet down.”
We suggest approaching your loud neighbors in a friendly but direct way; passive-aggressiveness isn’t likely to get you the respect of your neighbors, and you probably won’t get you what you want. For example, try asking them, “Could you please turn your music down a little for the rest of the night? I’m trying to sleep/study, and I’d really appreciate it!”
Consult an RA
Sometimes, no matter how nicely you ask or how reasonable you’re being, your neighbors will flat-out not listen to a word you’re saying. In instances like that, it’s best to consult your RA.
“For consistent and major cases, I would consult your RA right away, because that is their job,” Nicole says. “I have done it in ways where I had a floor meeting to go over quiet hours and courtesy hour rules for the floor in general, and some rooms would always take the hint, and they were never a problem after that.”
Nicole says that RAs will also knock on individual rooms’ doors. “For the most part, [the rude neighbors] never thought twice that a neighbor had complained,” she says. “They just thought I was doing my job as the RA and were usually compliant.”
So if you’re nervous about approaching an RA and being seen in a bad light by your neighbors, don’t be! Your RAs are trained to deal with these situations in a way that will make all of their residents comfortable.
Jordan, a senior at the University of Tampa, dealt with a neighbor who blasted music all day and all night. After a few weeks of trying to brush it off, she and her roommate decided the noise was too much for them, so they contacted their RA.
“My RA talked to our neighbor, and it resolved the problem for the most part,” she says. “My neighbor ended up apologizing to us and told us to knock on his door or text whenever he was being too loud.”
Your RAs are trained for this kind of mediation, so if you have a real issue with the noise coming from your neighbor, contacting an RA the way Jordan did is a surefire way to get the noise to stop.
Don’t stoop to their level
Sometimes your neighbors aren’t even noisy—you’re just convinced that they’re terrible people. When caught in a situation like this, it’s almost always best to turn the other cheek.
“My last year I had the meanest neighbors,” says Julia, a junior at the University of New Hampshire. “They were almost something out of the movie Mean Girls. They weren’t loud or messy in the halls or anything; you could just hear them say all these nasty things about people when they’d walk by or leave their doors open. They were really offensive people, but my roommates and I just had to take the high road.”
Nasty neighbors might not always come in the form of catty girls. They might be the ones who never hold the door or think they’re too good for saying hi to you when you pass by on campus.
Rude people are never fun to deal with, but nobody said you had to become BFFs with everyone you meet in college. If you have nasty neighbors, just try to ignore them. Avoiding an all-out neighbor war is the best way to enjoy your living situation. And cross your fingers your room isn’t near theirs next year!
If your neighbors’ nastiness crosses a line into bullying, contact your RA immediately. Everyone has the right to feel safe and comfortable in his or her dorm, and you cannot let any mean neighbor take that away from you.
Remember, the key to getting along with your neighbors is to treat them how you would like to be treated. If you respect them and give them the benefit of the doubt, they’ll respect you, too. If nothing else, they’ll teach you how to handle tough situations in a real-world setting!