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The Twenty-Three Unwritten Rules of College Etiquette (page 3)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Be A Good Listener

Listening is truly an undervalued and underappreciated skill.

When a roommate or a friend comes to you with a problem and wants to talk, take it as a compliment that your opinion means enough to him to have been solicited.

And then sit back and listen.

Keep Secrets And Don't Gossip

This is a corollary to the previous rule. Anything shared with you in confidence stays that way. For you to be trusted for your advice and counsel, you must first be seen as someone who can be trusted. That means not trafficking in gossip and never betraying a confidence. Not once.

Share Everything You Can

Share your class notes, clothes, iPod - whatever a roommate, friend, or classmate might need. In college, what goes around comes around. Someday it will be you needing the class notes, the shirt or dress for the big date, or the iPod for your long run when you really need to get away for a while. If you've shared with others, others will share with you. Building up some favor equity with your classmates is always a good idea.

Ask First, Borrow Second

To that end, you should never borrow anything from a friend or a roommate without asking first. This is how major roommate battles begin. Taking your roommate's iPod for a run without getting the okay first, even if you leave a note, is not okay unless you've worked out an understanding about that ahead of time. The one time you take it without asking will inevitably be the day that your roommate was going out of town and wanted it for the train ride.

Convey Messages Promptly

If someone calls or stops by looking for a roommate and you take a message, don't forget to leave a message. This is another way that major misunderstandings and roommate battles begin. All it takes to start a problem is one dropped message from the girl or guy whose call was eagerly anticipated but not received.

Control Your Use Of Alcohol And Drugs

Without passing judgment on the advisability of the use of alcohol and drugs generally, an important corollary etiquette issue does come up when you get so hammered or baked that you become a safety concern, a burden on your friends and roommates, or both. As with most things, you may screw up here and there on occasion. But if you find your roommates taking you to the Department of Undergraduate Health to have your stomach pumped or calling the campus police to break into your locked room because they're afraid you've passed out in a dangerous situation"you're taking advantage of these relationships.

Watch After Your Friends And Roommates

This, of course, is the flip side of the preceding rule. If you go to a party with some friends or your roommates, keep an eye on each other. Like it or not, bad things do happen at college parties, particularly when experienced upperclassmen, inexperienced underclassmen, and drugs and alcohol mix. Talk to each other and reach agreement before you go out about what the rules of the road are going to be. Do you all go home together at a certain time? Do you wait for each other? Is there a certain code you might want to use to express particular sentiments, such as "I like this person" or "This person scares me"get me out of here"?

Practice Safe Sex

You might be surprised to find this mention in an etiquette article, but the practice of safe sex is in fact not only an issue of health and wellness but also one of etiquette and respect toward one another. In this era of casual sexual "hookups" on campus, condom use should be the rule and should be assumed. It can sometimes be awkward to initiate a discussion about protection in the heat of passion. Often one partner will wait for the other to start the discussion, and the unfortunate result, many times, is that neither one does start, exposing both partners to the risk of sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy. Don't wait for the discussion. Assume safe sex to be the rule as a gesture of mutual respect.

Don't Date Your Roommates' Or Friends' Siblings Or Exes

Perhaps no single thing leads to disaster among friends and roommates faster than dating a friend's or roommate's sibling or ex. This phenomenon is so well known, it should practically be written into the code of conduct at your college or university"but of course, every year, there are you risk takers who throw caution to the wind and do it anyway.

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