My dear friend Lulu, who is an astute social and political observer, has some comments about everyone’s nightmare college roommate and the roommate’s disgraceful enabler, the New York Times.
Romaissaa Benzizoune is the worst roommate in America. She deserves to be publicly called out for it. As does her callous enabler, the New York Times.
I suppose we’ve all had some better and worse roommate situations in our lives. I once shared a house with someone who, in retrospect, must have had a form of OCD. She couldn’t put things away in her room. Her piles of possessions drove her out of her own cluttered bedroom and to the shared living room sofa, which became her de facto bedroom. While that was a pretty difficult situation, she had no meanness to her. We were annoyed, yes, but also had compassion for her.
I know a young man whose roommate his freshman year was the dorm drug dealer. My niece’s freshman roommate had severe mental health issues that were both frightening and dangerous. It’s a crapshoot. Two or three total strangers are thrown together into a dorm by chance and sometimes they’re lucky and enjoy a great situation with thoughtful, considerate, stable people who become friends, or at least develop a healthy dynamic. This is the situation my daughter, thankfully, enjoys now with her roommates in her freshman dorm.
Some people have less luck. Take K.N. Pineda. She was unlucky enough in her freshman year at college to Romaissaa assigned as her roommate at New York University because, as I mentioned, Romaissaa is the worst roommate in America.
Imagine, if you will, an 18-year-old Pineda adjusting not only to college life but also to living in NYC while attending NYU. The roommates have different backgrounds, not surprising in a cosmopolitan school like NYU, but chat, braid each other’s hair and have a cordial relationship. Then one day, Pineda, in a conversation, reveals something about herself that is so shocking and horrible that Romaissaa’s only recourse is to flee her home and write an editorial in the NYT about her deep psychic wound upon discovering that her roommate is a disgusting idiot who believes horrible things and about how deeply, deeply traumatizing it is to continue to live with her. The horror is made worse because, as Romaissaa states, she is a Muslima who covers her hair and for her this makes her roommate’s sinful thought so much, much worse. I should mention that Romaissaa never mentions her roommate by name, but how hard would it be for all the other kids in the dorm at NYU to figure out who her roommate is?