90% of college freshmen have never shared a room27 Apr 2005
When I heard this statistic—which is a statistic for Pacific University, though likely to be fairly typical—I couldn't help but be a little discouraged by it. Pacific's growth plans include the development of residence halls (dorms to anyone not used to higher-education speak) with rooms that will house individuals—no roommates. If 90% of incoming students have never had to share space and resources with a sibling, how can we expect them to share space and resources on a larger scale.
While I will readily admit to having a room of my own for the majority of my middle and high school years, I experienced the benefit of compromise-laden living with my younger brother for about 10 years of our lives together. Including my married years, I can say that I have spent twice as many years sharing a bedroom as not. There is a lot to be gleaned from the ability to share a relatively small space on a regular basis. With siblings, or with a life partner, there will inevitably be arguments and clashes of opinion, but it is the response to these conflicts that helps to shape our emotional intelligence.
While I believe you can learn empathy in a number of ways, it seems to be that the lessons learned from compromising with a roommate could be extremely valuable. While there may be some merit to the solitude that an individual room in a residence hall could afford, I would hope that the incoming freshmen would be encouraged to share a little of themselves in a way more intimate than instant messaging—which increasingly seems to be the choice of the college-age crowd.