Help me protect my stuff
November 2, 2007 6:35 PM   Subscribe

How can I convince my roommate (college dorm room) in a non-awkward way that we need to lock the door?

My roommate never locks the door (not when the room is empty and not when we're both asleep) and she doesn't usually carry a key, meaning that she gets locked out and annoyed with me when I try to lock the door. She seems to be convinced that no one on campus has any bad intentions ever and that locking the door and carrying a key are some huge hassle. I on the other hand, imagine and constantly worry about my laptop getting stolen and being totally fucked. I also worry (less often though) about someone creepy and/or intoxicated wandering in while I'm sleeping and being weird. I'd like to bring it up this weekend because I'm going out of town and leaving my laptop here and I don't want to be constantly wondering about it. What's something I can say to her that doesn't sound paranoid or lecturing that will convince her to start locking the door and carrying a key so I don't lock her out? (yes I've considered locking her out until she gets the message but that's passive aggressive and kind of mean)
posted by martinX's bellbottoms to Human Relations (66 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tell her someone creepy came into the room one night when she was out?
posted by Solomon at 6:38 PM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

Yikes! Can you (please!) lock your laptop up in a friend's room 'til this gets worked out? Or take it with you?
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 6:39 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

What's wrong with sounding paranoid? Ask her as a personal favor. Even if she's just doing it to humor you, she's still doing it.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:42 PM on November 2, 2007

It's very possible that your laptop will get stolen from your dorm room; it happens at colleges all the time. If talking with her doesn't help her get the message, lock the bitch out.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:44 PM on November 2, 2007 [4 favorites]

Complaign to your RA.
posted by Paris Hilton at 6:44 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

I'd say check with your RA, and campus security. They should have some crime statistics (esp on-campus theft), or possibly horror stories. This is the kind of thing RA's are for.

I'd also invest in some sort of laptop cable lock. They're cheap, and when you're not using your laptop just lash it down. Yes, you can defeat them with bolt cutters or hacksaws, but most of what you're trying to avoid is crimes of opportunity.
posted by pupdog at 6:44 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Second the creepy person coming in. If you need something a with a bit more oomph, find a willing accomplice to act stupid and stalkerish. (My roommate also had issues with door-locking and it wasn't a problem after some PSYCHO she met on Myspace came in one night while we were both passed out drunk. And crawled into bed with her. )
posted by sperose at 6:45 PM on November 2, 2007

I'm going to have to go with the white lie here. Tell her you saw someone leave the room.... but that you saw it from the end of the hall and couldn't get a good description and that they ran away. Then stick with that story to your grave.

That said, I would NOT advocate interfering if it was her own room, nor do I believe in spreading the culture of fear that's gotten out of control. But the core problem here is that you live there, too, you have valuables, and your need for security (one of Maslow's basic hierarchical needs) is not being taken seriously.
posted by hodyoaten at 6:46 PM on November 2, 2007

To everyone suggesting a white lie: Funny story, I had somewhere to be super early one Saturday morning and I locked the door as I left. Not long after I left, the kid who lives immediately below us tried to wander into our room drunk and was only stopped by the locked door. After that I managed to convince her to lock the door on weekends for about 2 weeks when she went back to leaving it unlocked all the time.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 6:47 PM on November 2, 2007

My school newspaper has a police section, and you'll often find reports of iPods, money, or wallets stolen from unlocked campus dorm rooms, even when the door is left open for only 5 minutes while someone is in the bathroom. Check your local paper or maybe talk with campus police to get an idea about how common this is. Your roommate might be more responsive to your concerns if you can show her its a real problem.

Several years ago I had a problem with a roommate leaving the door unlocked at night. One night while we were sleeping a drunk friend from next door walked in and peed on our floor, my bed, and a bunch of papers I had out. Dealing with the police for an hour at 2AM and cleaning urine off the floor convinced him to start locking the door.
posted by Amaterasu at 6:51 PM on November 2, 2007

Take your laptop with you when you travel! Even if your roommate starts to lock the door, I think it's safer with you than in someone else's care in a dorm. The cable lock is a good idea - kind of like hiking in bear country, your laptop doesn't need to be theft-proof, just harder to steal than hers.
posted by altcountryman at 6:51 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you two actually get along, buy her a key-keeper of some sort. Most campus bookstores will sell you at least a lanyard with the mascot on it, or something similar. Then, not only are you making the suggestion but you're helping provide a solution.

Either that or steal something of hers. Maybe that'll get her attention.
posted by pupdog at 6:52 PM on November 2, 2007

Christ almighty, is the girl from another planet? Remind her of Virginia Tech for starters. Worrying about material possessions is the least of your problems. What is to stop some drunken frat boy from wandering in and raping you both? It's you and your safety that is of primary importance and just because she wants to live in la-la land doesn't mean you should have to. Lock the door every chance you get when you leave. That will train her to have her keys with her at all times. Have a conversation with the RA about the situation.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:56 PM on November 2, 2007

After that I managed to convince her to lock the door on weekends for about 2 weeks when she went back to leaving it unlocked all the time.

Wow. In that case, I'm thinking along the lines of lighting a fire under the university to force a room change for you. There may be legal recourse if you have written proof that they refused a room change and something later gets stolen. I really think it would be a good insurance policy to see a lawyer and maybe have them send a certified letter on their letterhead to the university seeking a solution.
posted by hodyoaten at 6:57 PM on November 2, 2007

Just be honest and tell her you are concerned about property theft. You aren't being paranoid, this kind of stuff happens all the time. At my college laptops are regularly stolen from rooms while the owner is just down the hall or in the shower. My $700 digital SLR was stolen from my friend's dorm while I was visiting her one weekend last year. It sucks, but you can't trust everyone.

If you voice your concerns to her and warn her that you are going to start locking the door, I don't think you are being passive aggressive.
posted by puffin at 7:00 PM on November 2, 2007

Locking the door in a shared living situation is unquestionably a reasonable thing to do. She doesn't have to do it for herself, but she has a responsibility to do it for you. Tell her that.
posted by reeddavid at 7:03 PM on November 2, 2007

2nding a room change. At the very least, get the RA or another official to talk to (or yell at) her.
posted by Reggie Digest at 7:04 PM on November 2, 2007

A couple of scary things have actually happened on campus recently and when I sort of implied that these could be reasons to lock our door my roommate kind of just brushed me off. Since I'm generally awkward and really bad at coming out and saying things I haven't been able to come up with a way to say "hey, lock the fucking door before we get raped or our shit gets stolen" that doesn't seem to imply "I'm paranoid" or "I think you're stupid." Does anyone have anything specific for me to say? (like a script almost. I'm that awkward)
PS- I otherwise like my roommate and I don't want this to make us not friends anymore.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 7:05 PM on November 2, 2007

After thinking some more, locking her out may seem passive-aggresive and mean, but she's not a kid anymore. Time to grow up and learn to carry keys.
posted by pupdog at 7:05 PM on November 2, 2007 [5 favorites]

Yeah. You need to lock your door. Have you talked to her about this? From your question, it seems like you're quite ignored, but haven't really addressed the issue with her head-on. There are really two things going on here:

* Locking the door when you're both asleep. This is simple: just lock the door when you go to bed. This is basic personal safety. You don't need to coordinate with her to do this.

* Locking the door when you're away. You might want to recommend that your roommate get some sort of lanyard keychain (campus stores tend to sell these) so that she doesn't have to keep track of her keys. For bonus points, set up a hook or space near the door where she can keep her key, so it can be habitual to remember it. Once you've got the system in place, you need to explain that you will be locking the door when you leave from now on and you expect her to do the same. If she gets locked out, she can go to the office (or whatever happens at your dorm when you get locked out) or wait for you to come back. Explain that she will be responsible if she leaves the door unlocked and someone takes things belonging to you.

"Locking her out until she gets the message" isn't passive aggressive if you provide notice and help her to keep track of her key; it's just basic sanity. People lock their doors in college.

It wouldn't hurt to explain to her that you're ok with it if she leaves the door unlocked (but closed) when she goes to the bathroom or something similar, to show that you're not just a door nazi.
posted by zachlipton at 7:06 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

You don't necessarily need to complain to your RA at this point, but certainly discuss it with him or her. Your RA will probably know/have access to reports of goings on in your dorm and other dorms on campus.

Seriously, your roommate is being hopelessly optimistic, things walk out of unlocked dorm rooms all the time. Keep your laptop somewhere else this weekend (or at least get a lock for it).
posted by solotoro at 7:07 PM on November 2, 2007

The victim in this case was a childhood acquaintance of mine. Girls in college should be especially careful about intruders.
posted by null terminated at 7:07 PM on November 2, 2007

"I haven't been able to come up with a way to say "hey, lock the fucking door before we get raped or our shit gets stolen" that doesn't seem to imply "I'm paranoid" or "I think you're stupid."

Say this: "Hey, lock the fucking door before we get raped or our shit gets stolen."

Seriously. You're not out of bounds asking your roommate to be considerate of the security of your person and possessions. It's not paranoid to take basic fucking precautions like locking a door in a high-density housing unit. It's okay to say "lock the fucking door," because that's what should be done.
posted by majick at 7:13 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

"Hey roomie, a lot of weird shit has been going on lately around here. I'm kind of freaked out about it and from now on I'm going to ask you to lock the door when you're gone or when we are asleep. I know this means you'll have to remember to carry your keys, but that's an easy habit to get into. I'd hate for something terrible to happen to one of us, or for a laptop to get stolen. You're a great roommate and I'd hate for anything bad to happen, so let's start keeping the door locked, mmmmkay?"
posted by ambrosia at 7:16 PM on November 2, 2007

Wow. That's beyond the pale.

I'd recommend something along these lines....non-judgmental, straightforward, lighthearted, and firm, in a way that shows her that she'll get something out of it, too. You've got to live with her, so you've got two goals: getting what you need (locked room) and not having her hate you.

Hey Roommate.

Not knowing that we're safe is really starting to affect my wellbeing. I mean, think of how horrible I'll feel if someone gets my Beanie Baby collection! No seriously, though, the last x times you've gone out you haven't locked our door, and I've been living on edge worrying about my laptop or whatever.

I know it's a hassle, but it's taking up a lot of my time worrying. Our entire lives, basically, are in this room and it's a lot more common than you think for things to "go missing."

For my own sense of safety I'm going to keep the door locked when we're out or sleeping, so you need to have a key on you and also lock the door when we're out or sleeping. That way you'll also be able to get in if I'm not around to open up. Presto, no more annoyance at being locked out!

It's possible/likely that she'll resist. At that point, determine what's more important of your goals--the lock or the relationship? I'm guessing from your question that safety is your primary concern. If that's right, then the key is to repeat yourself and repeat yourself ad nauseum. Be a broken record.

"I'm going to lock the door and you need to also."
"It's not safe to leave the doors unlocked."
"The door needs to be locked when we're not here or sleeping"
"I'll be locking the door, and you need to, too."

That sort of thing. And then, yeah, escalate if need be. And buy her a lanyard or something, if you want. She's got to have her ID/money/phone on her, right? Attach it all together somehow.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:19 PM on November 2, 2007

Blatherfest alert up there from me. Sorry 'bout the length!
posted by Stewriffic at 7:21 PM on November 2, 2007

"Hey roomie, I've mentioned my concerns a few times already and I think they're reasonable. Our personal safety is very important to me. From now on I'm going to lock the door when I feel like I need to. Just want to give you a heads up so that you have your keys on you."

You already know she may get annoyed. If she confronts you, be a broken and monotonous record, "I understand that you're upset but this is my room too and our safety is that important to me. I'd rather have this difficult conversation than be a victim of a crime. If you can propose a simpler solution that maintains our safety and security, I'm wiling to hear it."
posted by cocoagirl at 7:21 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

yes I've considered locking her out until she gets the message but that's passive aggressive and kind of mean

Only if you don't say anything about it.

If you say "Roommate, I lock the door. Carry a key.", that's not passive-aggressive.

You're not her keeper or her mother, and you're not responsible for her ability to enter the room. She is. Lock the door and let the consequences work themselves out.

that doesn't seem to imply "I'm paranoid" or "I think you're stupid."

But she is stupid. About this, anyway.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:22 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

"Hey, I know you like the freedom of not locking the door. But I'm just not comfortable with it. I'm going to start locking it."

You're not paranoid, she's not stupid. You're just 2 adults with different viewpoints. If she objects, you just say, "Yeah, well, I'm just not comfortable with it." Repeat as necessary. As a person who's not too assertive and who hates to ask for things, I find the broken record technique pretty effective. Good luck!
posted by selfmedicating at 7:26 PM on November 2, 2007

I don't know where you are at school, but where I went to school, not locking the door was the norm. Then again, it was a tiny school (1600 kids) with a very, very, very, insanely serious honor code.

If you don't go to Davidson or its somewhere-else equivalent, you need to be locking your door.

Being able to secure your stuff and your person is a very basic thing to want and to expect. Your roommate's behavior is disrespectful and in all possibility, dangerous. Adults keep keys, unless they live in Mayberry. I highly doubt your roommate is from Mayberry, and even then, it does not matter.

Don't lie to her, don't leave a passive aggressive note, tell her, flat out, that you are going to be locking the door. Give her a key chain for her key. Be nice, but be firm. "I"m not trying to be a bitch, but I really don't think you are taking me seriously. It's a matter of safety for us and for our stuff. If you really can't live with a locked door, then you need to consider asking Residence Life for a single. Thanks."

Don't be cute; be serious. And if she does not take you seriously, then take it to Res Life.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:29 PM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

Ask what you can do for her to return the favor. Perhaps a load of laundry a week?

That way it aligns her incentives with yours: she gets laundry done just for carrying a key. You get your door locked and just have to do an extra load of laundry. Surely that's a cheap protection for your laptop?

That way you don't have to escalate anything to the RA or the college and everyone is happy.
posted by Pants! at 7:32 PM on November 2, 2007

This isn't about whether or not something will happen, it's about the respect that your roommate is showing to your things. She may be able to accept the risk of being robbed of her own things but she doesn't get to make the decision for your things.

Try framing it like that to her and if she still doesn't lock the door, get a room change.
posted by 517 at 7:38 PM on November 2, 2007

Pants!: Are you mad? The poster doesn't owe her any favors; locking the door is not a favor. By all means, be nice and help her out with a keychain or a lanyard or something, but you absolutely should not have to do her laundry in order to get her to do something as basic as locking the door. What's next? Doing her problem sets in exchange for her not flipping your desk over? You have the right to expect basic common sense without owing her anything.
posted by zachlipton at 7:41 PM on November 2, 2007 [4 favorites]

Good grief.

My son goes to USAFA. With a very stringent honor code.

Laptops get stolen THERE too.

Tell her she WILL start locking the door. Period.
posted by konolia at 7:54 PM on November 2, 2007

Get renter's insurance. It's relatively cheap, probably like $10 a month, and make sure it covers your laptop. Back-up your important files weekly.

And then follow everyone else's advice here. If she forgets or refuses, you'll still be covered. And you should have renter's insurance anyways.
posted by Mercaptan at 7:57 PM on November 2, 2007

And the bonus with renter's insurance would be that the insurance company might try to come after her for damages from her negligence. That may or may not be true but you could mention it anyway.
posted by 517 at 8:05 PM on November 2, 2007

Point out to her that your renter's insurance (you have that right?) requires you to take reasonable steps to secure your belongings. The most basic of which would be locking the door.
posted by Mitheral at 8:17 PM on November 2, 2007

Waving aside all the weird ideas about trying to "trick" her into locking the door, I have three suggestions for you:

1) Go to your RA and say "RA, my roommate never locks the door, can I stash my laptop with you for the weekend and when I come back can you help me tell her to lock the door, because she's not listening to me." That takes care of the immediate problem. That is what the RA is for, by the way, unless they totally suck they'll help you, but before you enlist the RA for a sitdown:

2) It's almost impossible to say this without sounding condescending, but life is jam-packed with situations where you need to get someone to do something that they (for reasons of laziness or foolishness or selfishness) won't do. Take this early practice as a freebie and straight up tell your roommate to lock the door, it's really not going to be the end of the world. Do that after you get back from your weekend.

3) The script when you talk to her is very simple. "I need you to please lock the door, I'm going to lock the door whenever I'm in the room and when I leave, I don't want my stuff stolen or some weirdo walking in. Thanks."

None of these things will make you a jerk or a bad person. You'll feel better after you do them. Stand up for yourself. If you do all these things and your roommate still won't lock the door go to your residential life people and say "I did all these things and my roommate still won't lock the door, can I have a new room please."

Good luck.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:23 PM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

I think Americans are completely paranoid and irrational about personal security, but it just makes no sense to me that two women on a college campus not named after Orel Roberts wouldn't keep their doors locked.

Absolutely talk to your RA about this. Your concerns are legitimate. Whatever process you start, it needs to end with you being firm with your roommate that you're going to be locking the door regularly, and you'd appreciate it if she would to. If she comes home, and the door's locked and there's no one home, it's not your fault. Maybe she'll take the hint, maybe she won't. The reality is that you may not be able to change her behavior, but she at the very least needs to accept yours.
posted by mkultra at 8:33 PM on November 2, 2007

I don't know how much reasoning you've done with your roommate so far, but I think if you complain to an authority figure or lie to your roommate without trying to reason with her first, you're being an ass.

I think you're overly concerned with sounding reasonable to your roommate. Who cares if she thinks your request is reasonable or not, as long as she's locking the door? Try explaining to her that having the door locked is important to you and ask her to do it for that reason alone. Perhaps you've done this already. If so, there's plenty of other advice in this thread.

That said, I also think you're a little bit over concerned with theft and/or creepiness. Theft's at universities are thefts of opportunity. If you put your laptop in a drawer or other non-visible, non-obvious spot, I'd be absolutely astounded if it got stolen. I also think fears of someone coming into your room at night are unwarranted. Someone is going to come into your room at night and do what to you exactly? Rape you? With your roommate there too? and hundreds of people near by? If I was your roommate, I would lock the door at night because you asked me to, not because it's necessary.

For what it's worth, I'm someone who almost never locks anything. For the last 4 years (one in a dorm room, 3 in a house), my roommates and I never, ever locked the door. I didn't even own a key to my house for the last 18 months of living there. There is some convenience to not locking doors. You never need to worry about bringing a key anywhere and when someone else needs or wants to get into your house you don't need to be there for them. To be fair, we also didn't have too much worth stealing and would lock the front door on breaks.

I'm currently living in a situation where my roommates lock the door and I do as well. However, I expect I'll go back to not locking things when given the opportunity (at least until I own nice things, anyway).
posted by christonabike at 8:42 PM on November 2, 2007

Ask the RA to help you talk with her. It doesn't sound like she's listening to you or your concerns at all. Maybe the RA will have a more effective way of getting to her. Or at least some more ideas for you to try. (Or the time to help you roleplay your part.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:59 PM on November 2, 2007

If she's really a good friend, she'll be willing to do what minor things are necessary to put your mind at ease, even if she (irrationally) thinks you're being paranoid. If she's not willing to do that for you after you clearly express your concerns, then she's not really much of a friend or a roommate and I think you can legitimately go to the RA or ask for a room change.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:04 PM on November 2, 2007

What coab said. Convincing her it's a good idea may be impossible but that's a separate issue from getting her to do it. Ask her to do it because of the the unlocked door effect the unlocked door has on you: it makes you uncomfortable, you can't sleep well (even when you're away), etc. She can't argue with that and it's not something that can be changed. Either she wants a happy roommate or she doesn't
posted by winston at 9:11 PM on November 2, 2007

start locking the door every time she leaves. lock it every time you leave. she'll get locked out. if you're asleep, stay in bed. if your out, well, you're out.

make friends with the creepiest punk you know on campus. have him wait in the room until she comes home. it'll scare the crap out of her. then have him explain that he was supposed to meet you and hey, the door was unlocked so he let himself in.

she won't leave the door unlocked again.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:32 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Does anyone have anything specific for me to say? (like a script almost. I'm that awkward)

"Knowing my stuff is secure is important to me, and the risk associated with our perpetually unlocked door is greater than the inconvenience of carrying a key. It is really irresponsible to keep the door unlocked, especially when we are away. From now on, I will be locking the door when I'm in the room and when I leave. If you don't take your keys with you, you aren't going to be able to get in. I'm not trying to be a bitch and I really don't want you to get locked out, so please remember to take your keys and lock the door behind you"

You want to keep the door locked, and that's a normal thing. If it wasn't, the dorm would have everyone bring their own optional door locks, like you bring your own alarm clock. It is pretty manipulative of her to force you to keep the door unlocked just because she refuses to bring a key. As the end of the day, by locking the door, you aren't intentionally locking her out and you aren't being passive aggressive. It would be passive aggressive if you did it only to teach her a lesson, but you're not doing it for that reason. You're doing it because you want the door locked, If you give her warning that she should expect to find the door locked, you aren't locking her out.
posted by necessitas at 9:37 PM on November 2, 2007

Ask what you can do for her to return the favor. Perhaps a load of laundry a week?

Hell no. Locking the door isn't some special favor that deserves a reacharound.

Doing her laundry in exchange for her locking up is like doing her laundry so she'll stop shitting in your bed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:27 PM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

christonabike writes "I didn't even own a key to my house for the last 18 months of living there. There is some convenience to not locking doors. You never need to worry about bringing a key anywhere and when someone else needs or wants to get into your house you don't need to be there for them."

Not to derail but you can have all this convenience and still keep your house secured with a key pad dead bolt.
posted by Mitheral at 10:51 PM on November 2, 2007

I was an RA for two years and it's absolutely, positively insane to not lock your dorm when you're asleep or not in it. Not just stupid, a very real risk to your wellbeing. We had several incidents in my hall alone (one of about a dozen large buildings) of girls waking up in the middle of the night with a stranger in their room. It's absurd that something so easy to prevent isn't 100% of the time. And as people have mentioned, stuff gets stolen from unlocked dorms all the time. Not unlocked for a weekend, unlocked for 5 minutes. I'm not exaggerating at all here. What's amazing to me is that none of these things have happened to you yet, and for that you should be very grateful.

Your roommate is, at best, an idiot. Tell her that you're going to be locking the door. Period. If she doesn't like that, she can find a new room. You're not in the wrong for protecting yourself and your property and no RA, hall director or anyone else reasonable will ever fault you for that.
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:56 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

I've had drunk people wander up to my second floor apartment and try the door. I don't think you are being unreasonable. The sad thing is, I don't think you'll ever get her to lock the door unless something bad happens to her as a result of leaving it unlocked. But you can lock it every time you leave the room, and tell her it's a reflexive habit with you.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:21 AM on November 3, 2007

There is some convenience to not locking doors.

Five years of convenience due to never locking your door is wiped out by the two minutes it takes for someone to steal your laptop.
posted by oaf at 4:45 AM on November 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

Which is to say that not locking your door is intensely stupid.

Princeton, the country-club utopia of college towns, had five laptops stolen from dorms in the span of about ten days (two of them were taken as a prank and later returned). At least three of the laptops were stolen from rooms whose doors lock automatically but were rigged not to lock by the occupants.
posted by oaf at 4:47 AM on November 3, 2007

Oh, and the non-prank thefts were likely stolen by street gangs. So you never know.
posted by oaf at 4:48 AM on November 3, 2007

Yeah, in college my roomate and I had to drag some drunk guy out of the girls across the halls room at 4am after they went to bed without locking the door. Good thing we were up, because who knows what could have happened. Basically tell her "Look, campus is big. Lots of people wander around who don't belong here. It's irresponsible to think no one will just wander in to our room drunk or with dangerous intentions. I'm not trying to get my shit stolen of to get raped." If that doesn't work, go to the RA and demand a room change. If your RA doesn't take you seriously visit your RD or Residential Life department and complain.
posted by Phoenix42 at 5:35 AM on November 3, 2007

Nthing getting the RA involved if another discussion doesn't help. That's their job, to help mediate situations like this. Plus, they should have things like theft/assault statistics to help convince your roommate that your fears are justified and smart.

As for the idea of getting her some kind of keychain, I'll make a more specific suggestion. If your school is anything like mine, you need your ID card for everything, from building access to meal points and everything in between. Pretty much everyone I knew in college had one of those cardholders with a keyring attached to it - they usually sell them with the school seal in the bookstore. Since she probably never leaves without her ID, this would make sure she always has her key, too.

Not that I think buying her anything is really necessary. She needs to grow up and take some responsibility - her laziness does not trump your personal security.
posted by CtrlAltDelete at 5:35 AM on November 3, 2007

I would make up a story about having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to a burglary when I was a child, thus making a real emotional need personal to me to have the door locked.

Find some personal reason relevant to your friendship, rather than the abstract notion of safety (which she seems not to be affected by) to motivate her to do it.
posted by By The Grace of God at 5:36 AM on November 3, 2007

I don't know where you are at school, but where I went to school, not locking the door was the norm.
If you don't go to Davidson or its somewhere-else equivalent, you need to be locking your door.

My camera was stolen at Hampshire College (1400 students, semi-isolated campus), where no one ever locks their doors. Half the people don't even bother locking their bikes up outside. It doesn't mean anything -- this stuff can happen anywhere. (Including Davidson -- crime statistics here.)
posted by puffin at 6:15 AM on November 3, 2007

How can I convince my roommate...

If anyone needs to move out, it's her, not you.

While you're both there, though, lock the door every time you so much as go for a pee, and always lock it when she leaves (because you might fall asleep and because you feel safer that way). Also try frequently going out after she leaves and locking the door behind you so she has to go ask to have the door opened. When you do have to open the door for her, do it slowly, as if she woke you up or interrupted something important you were doing. She'll start carrying her key or she'll move out.
posted by pracowity at 6:20 AM on November 3, 2007

What kind of lock is on the door? Is it the type that automatically locks behind you either way and you have to manually unlock it or do you have to lock it every time you come and go from the room? Because if it is the latter type, try to see if the housing department or campus security can have it changed to one that automatically locks. That's what I have so I don't have to worry about the door being unlocked since it just stays locked at all times. If she is unlocking it when she is coming or going, sit her down and firmly remind her that logically speaking, there is a reason that it automatically locks so she needs to grow up and be responsible and carry the key with her at all times. Get her to attach it somehow to her backpack or her purse so she can't leave without it.

If they can't or won't change the lock and is of the type that requires you manually lock it behind you when you come or go, then point out to her there should not be a problem with her forgetting her key since if she needs the key to lock the door behind her, that she means she will have to have it with her. Plus, tell her it will only be the first few times that she will have to actually remind herself to lock the door behind her, after that it should become a habit and she will do it without even thinking about it.

Also, do not not further describe yourself as being "paranoid." Instead, you are being smart and conscientiousness of your surroundings. If your roommate rolls her eyes or makes some comment every time you do lock the door before you go to sleep, ignore it or remind yourself that you are in the right and she is wrong.
posted by lilacorlavender at 8:06 AM on November 3, 2007

Ask her to read this.

The men wandered through the residence and opened many dorm room doors that were unlocked. Those that they found that contained young women, they entered. And then they raped those women.

This happened in the second week of classes. There is a locked security door to the dorms, but they were young enough to pass for students. No one blinked an eye at their being there.

Yes, the campus is large, urban, but these stories exist all over.

What would be her motivations for not locking the door / carrying a key?

a) she finds it inconvenient -- hopefully the reality of the situation will outweigh this, even to her mind. plus, more inconvenient to be locked out

b) she thinks that if she doesn't lock the room she won't have to worry about losing her keys -- if she thinks the odds of losing her keys are higher than of a thief or attacker walking in, then make arrangements to give a spare key to a couple of neighbours, so she can have a back up

c) locking the door is acknowledging the dangers -- she wants to believe that she is insulated from theft and physical assault. and she probably is, but not absolutely. she may be in denial.

Of course, there is always the possibility that she doesn't believe there is a danger, in which case, some information should be furnished to her to point out how wrong she is.
posted by girlpublisher at 8:48 AM on November 3, 2007

It wouldn't hurt to explain to her that you're ok with it if she leaves the door unlocked (but closed) when she goes to the bathroom or something similar, to show that you're not just a door nazi.

I know several people on my campus who have had their laptops stolen when they just went out for the bathroom. At least here the official recommendation is to lock your room whenever you leave it.

Another angle: your insurance (or your parents'—check to see if your room contents are under their homeowner's policy or how much it would cost to get a rider for this) may not cover theft if your roommate was negligent in leaving the room unlocked.
posted by grouse at 10:13 AM on November 3, 2007

"I've been thinking about it, and having our room unlocked is stressing me out. It's just not safe. I'm letting you know now that I'm going to start locking it, so carry your key."

(This language frames it in a way which is about facts more than feelings.)

If she gives you guff, say, "Well, then this living situation isn't working for both if us. Maybe you should talk to housing about moving."
posted by Riverine at 1:40 PM on November 3, 2007

Get a tall, scary, male friend (hint, name begins with J and he went to highschool with us) to barge in when she's there alone.
posted by phrontist at 7:37 PM on November 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

First, you should go talk to your RA and make him/her aware of the situation. If you still feel like you need some pointers, your RA can help you figure out how to have this conversation.

But this is really a very simple conversation to have. Your roommate is being unreasonable. I went to Drew, a school with (at the time) around 1300 undergrads, where everyone was issued a laptop upon arrival and the dorms were secure and strangers still got into our buildings, laptops were still stolen, and bad things still happened. I had things stolen from my room my junior year.

You have every right to demand (yes, I said demand) that your roommate lock your damned room and, if she doesn't, to lock her out. She has a key. She can use it. If she doesn't carry it, she can learn how to start paying the fee to Public Safety for them to key her in. She'll learn to carry her key really quickly.

Her aversion to carrying a key is flat out unsafe and stupid. She's risking your safety and hers.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 8:02 PM on November 3, 2007

Leave her key and your laptop with the RA. And lock the door.

Oh, and get her to sign a document stating her refusal to lock the door, with her understanding that is her responsibility to replace any stolen goods, and indemnify you against damage to your person.

Okay, maybe that's a bit over the top - but it might drive the point home.
posted by ysabet at 6:29 PM on November 4, 2007

Or it might be seen as an agreement that it is okay for her to leave the door unlocked.
posted by grouse at 6:31 PM on November 4, 2007

I saw a story today in the student paper at my university, which is not really considered a high-crime area. It contained the quotation, "I woke up to find this guy on top of me, throttling me," from a student who left his room unlocked.

It'd be great to have an update. What happened?
posted by grouse at 12:23 PM on November 15, 2007

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