my boss thinks I should share a hotel room with a stranger at a conference

A reader writes:

I am the fundraiser for a small nonprofit (6 full-time employees). I love my job, and I’m very good at it. I am consistently praised for my performance. My boss and I get along well and have a good professional relationship.

My boss put in the budget for me to attend a conference this year. I picked a conference to attend and then sought out, applied for, and won a scholarship to attend. I wrote all of the application materials on my own time, out of the office. The scholarship includes registration, meals, and a shared hotel room with another scholarship winner.

I am 34 years old. I do not want to share a hotel room with a stranger. I expressed this concern to my boss and requested that the organization pay the difference for me to have a private room. I do not yet know what the cost would be, but the conference rate for a room is $74. So, worst case, the organization would have to pay the full cost for two nights, which would be $148.

My boss told me I was being completely unreasonable in expecting my own room. He said I should use the opportunity to network. I pointed out that the organization budgeted for me to attend the conference, and that I felt like I was being penalized for proactively finding alternate funding. He said that once I won the scholarship, the budgeted funds were reallocated (which is literally impossible, because I notified him that I won the scholarship and that it included a shared room at the same time).

I really do not want to share a room. The way I see it, I have three choices: 1. Suck it up and share the room. 2. Decline the scholarship and pass on the opportunity (a professional mistake, I think) or 3. Pay out of pocket for the room. Another professional mistake, as I’m potentially setting the expectation that I will always pay out of pocket for travel.

Is there another option that I’m missing?

Well, there’s potentially a fourth option, which is going back to your boss and trying one more time to get him to see reason, because he’s absolutely being unreasonable here. As you point out, you’re asking the organization to pay less than what they were planning to pay if you hadn’t won the scholarship.

If you think your boss is open to discussing it again, I’d say something like this: “I was hoping we could revisit the question of my conference expenses. While I understand that some people don’t mind sharing hotel rooms with strangers, it’s not something I’m comfortable with and it’s not an option for me. So I’m trying to figure out how to proceed. Until Tuesday, when I told you about the scholarship, we were planning to spend $X for my registration fee, lodging, and other expenses at the conference. By applying for the scholarship, I was able to save us the $Y in registration and $Z in meals. I’d like to ask that the organization pay the $148 for a private room for two nights — $X less than the original cost we were planning on. If that’s not possible, then I’ll need to decide whether to pay for it myself, which I wouldn’t feel great about doing since this started as a business expense, or forego going at all, which I’d hate to do.”

A reasonable person would look at the math here and know that there’s no defensible way to refuse to cover the cost of your room.

That raises the question of why your boss isn’t being reasonable. Does he have a pattern of not seeing reason? Does he feel like people aren’t being sufficiently frugal with the organization’s resources, aside from this hotel room issue? Does he believe that you should suck it up and share the hotel room because “we travel frugally here and it’s part of our culture”?

I don’t know the answer, and it doesn’t necessarily matter — but it may shed some light on where he’s coming from if he digs in his heels.

On the subject of sharing hotel rooms in general, since it’s come up here before and people understandably have strong opinions about it: There are some industries where sharing hotel rooms is the norm (although often not if it means sharing with a stranger), like some parts of academia, although not all, and some nonprofits, although not all. There are also fields where it would be unheard of. In the fields where it’s normal, it’s pretty common for people to pay the difference between a private room and a shared room if they want the former. That may be what it ends up coming down to here — but you’re entitled to be annoyed by it if it does.

Read updates to this letter here.

{ 236 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    I’m in one of those fields where people share hotel rooms, and I think your boss is being an ass, and being an ass in a weird way. They get to pay $148 for you to attend an industry conference they were initially going to have to cover completely. I’m trying to figure out what is really going on–has the boss had to share a room and thinks that you need to “pay your dues”? Did he move this conference off of his mental map when you were awarded the funding and doesn’t want to move it back on even for $148?

    I join Alison on #4. I might also talk about it in terms of conference attendance generally–that you think it’s really important, and that’s why you were gratified that he agreed enough to put it in your budget. But now it seems like that view is changing–is it?

    (I don’t think networking is really a hotel room activity. Negotiating bathroom use is a hotel room activity.)

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Networking can happen at many places at a conference, but not in side-by-side beds. “Lucille, when you’re done taking a shower, what are your thoughts on the Chocolate Teapot Makers’ Guild of America? Do you think it’s something our organizations should be supporting?” “I like to get up at 5:30 AM and exercise vigorously in our room. Will that be a problem? What do you think about Mockolate blends?”

      1. Monday*

        Yeah, it actually strikes me that sharing a hotel room with a stranger would do harm to any networking potential, not help. I think of networking as a time to be my most polished, professional self, and then after making an adequate connection and perhaps setting up our next contact, moving on. It isn’t something you can do in pajamas. If anything, I’d be doing my darnedest to stay out of my roommate’s face, and hoping they’d show the same courtesy.

      2. Katiedid*

        Another +1 on the Mockolate reference!

        And all I’m thinking of are the horrible impressions I would give to the other attendee, although now all of your fears would be in my head as well! It’s hard to go back to professional respect when the first impression they have of you is your loud snoring, bite guard, nose strips, and night cream! And let’s not even get into the age old debates on room temperature, lighting, and TV volume!!

        1. teclatwig*

          Lol, perhaps this is where academia is different — my closest ties and the group positions I held came from sharing a room at a conference. However, I was a grad student rooming with a fellow grad student. I also saw junior professors room with other juniors. No cross-over, and senior scholars definitely had their one rooms.

          1. Melissa*

            Yes, and yes. I’ve met a lot of long-term friends by rooming with people (often strangers) at conferences, but it was always a grad-to-grad thing and I didn’t feel like I had to be on my “best behavior.”

    2. BRR*

      Of course none of but the boss could really know but I think the boss saw dollar signs. The boss thought, “Great now this frees up some money.” There is never a shortage of things to spend money on and the LW is not being a team player by asking for this max $148 that was there previously but is now freed up.

      The boss just taught the LW a lesson, never seek alternative funding. I do think that when the LW applied for the scholarship they should have foreseen this as a possibility but the boss sucks.

      1. Scott M*

        Yeah, I thought of this too. As soon as the OP notified the boss of the scholarship, the money was reallocated IN HIS MIND.

      2. Iro*

        I’m not following … are you saying the LW is not being a team player because they are asking for at most $148 out of what was likely a budget of $1000+? When said budget was only “taken away” because LW took it upon themselves to apply for scholarships that would save the company money?

        If so then you and I have drastically different definitions of what a “team player” is.

        1. BRR*

          I’m saying that was the boss’ thinking. As soon as the boss found out the LW got a scholarship the boss pre-spent that money in his head. That for the boss, the fact the LW is asking for any of it is unbelievable.

          My thinking is the boss is a jerk and should be thankful they have such a great employee who found funding when they didn’t even have to.

        2. NP person*

          I suspect BRR meant to put quotes around that last sentence in the first paragraph. Just imagining the internal dialogue the manager might be having.

            1. Armchair Analyst*

              I am imagining this as an unclear communicator would say – your two thumbs point in 2 different directions, or possibly to a different person.

  2. Bend & Snap*

    I’m in an industry where sharing NEVER EVER happens, and I can’t get my head around sharing a room with a stranger. And a bathroom? And what if they rob you? And how do you sleep next to someone you don’t know? And and and…I can’t.

    OP I think you’ve gotten good advice and I hope your boss sees reason. $148 to attend a conference is unbelievably cheap.

    1. Lamington*

      exactly, what if i was sharing my room and networkig with psycho killer. i don’t think i would be able to sleep, i’m going to a conferene, not a hostel.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Back when I was in academia, a truly broke grad student in a PhD program, I got partial funding from my department to attend a conference in another (expensive city). But they only covered registration fees and the flight – for hotel I was expected to pay out of pocket. Grad students were staying like 4+ to a room at the expensive conference Marriott.

        I ended up saying “screw it” and booked myself at a hostel in the city, because I just couldn’t afford to stay at the hotel even on a sharing basis. It actually turned out a great experience because I realized I was relieved that I didn’t have to stay with other conference attendees or socialize with them, because I frankly found them all pedantic and pompous. That was the weekend I finally realized a career in academia wasn’t for me. But I did enjoy the hostel!

      2. Squirrel!*

        what if i was sharing my room and networkig with psycho killer.

        Uh, that’s a little extreme, don’t you think? There are plenty of legitimate reasons to not want to share a room with a stranger at a work conference. I don’t think we have to play “Let’s freak out the OP”.

        1. HAnon*

          Maybe unlikely that the person would be a psycho killer, but very much within the realm of possibility that the stranger would bring back a “guest” to the shared room to spend the night…I have seen this scenario play out before, and it’s very uncomfortable even if you do know the person doing the inviting! (thinking of a former roommate who would pick up random guys in bars and bring them home)

    2. sunny-dee*

      And I was just thinking — what if the stranger is a member of the opposite sex? We do enough same-sex mixing over our lives with strangers — locker rooms, summer camp, dormitory bathrooms — that we kinda, sorta get adjusted to that. (Though it is still tres awkward.) But a member of the opposite sex? Uh-uh, no way.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I assume the scholarship-granters would at least pair people with same-sex roommates. That’s how it’s been at workshops I’ve attended where the housing was on-site and you could choose to have a roommate to save money. (I’m a teacher, and at this kind of workshop it’s common to have the choice between a more-expensive private room or a less-expensive shared room. If you’re traveling to the workshop with a colleague you can room together, but if you aren’t, the organizers will pair you with someone, often thoughtfully – e.g. someone who’s from your same city or teaches your same grade. I realize this is NOT the norm in other industries, but teachers/schools are always looking for cost-cutting measures.)

        1. Clare*

          This one plus point of being a woman in a highly male-dominated academic field. When other grad students were required to share rooms, I got a room to myself because there was no one else of the same sex for me to share with.

          Also there’s never a queue for the ladies bathroom

    3. manybellsdown*

      I have shared hotel rooms on professional trips, with co-workers. I can’t wrap my head around sharing with a stranger either. And I have even shared a BED with a co-worker on one memorable occasion (the hotel botched the reservation and put us in a single bed room. And I was pregnant at the time.)

    4. Melissa*

      Haha. I’m in an industry (academia) in which sharing is common, and I have shared with strangers before through scholarships similar to this. The bathroom use you negotiate at the beginning – you ask whether she’s a morning or night showerer. I usually do the opposite of whatever she says (if she says she showers in the morning then I take mine at night). I have never been robbed by a person I shared a hotel room with and usually you have separate beds. It’s usually just for 2-3 nights anyway, and while it’s not ideal, it’s not terrible.

  3. Labratnomore*

    Wow, that is crazy. I would never share a hotel room with a strange, there is so much bad that could come out of it. I wouldn’t enjoy sharing one with a co-worker either, but at least I wouldn’t see that as a totally crazy request. I think if idea # 4 doesn’t work you will have to pay yourself, which sucks but I am sure the ramifications of not going to the confrence would cost more that that in the long run.

    1. lowercase holly*

      i wouldn’t want to share with a coworker either because it could also end up weird and then you’d have to see that person every day afterwards. weird like they have odd bathroom habits or they think i do. or snoring, talking in sleep, whatever. i would share with a conference friend, someone from another institution that i’m friendly with, not a stranger.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Eh! Yeah, I wouldn’t love having to share with a coworker either… but it wouldn’t be the end of the world to me if it were just for one night or something. But a total stranger? WTF? That, I don’t get at all.

  4. Mike C.*

    So what is you boss going to do if this complete stranger does something inappropriate within your hotel room? Maybe something of yours is stolen or ruined? Maybe they wander in late at night and drunkenly attack you.

    I’m not saying this sort of thing is likely to happen, but at the very least when employees have to share rooms, the people are known to the organization. In this situation, this person is a stranger who is completely unknown to the employer.

    I’m not trying to be paranoid here, but your employer is really asking for trouble here. Things like “where one is temporarily living” shouldn’t have to be shared with a complete stranger. That’s just skeevy as all hell.

    1. Sunflower*

      What if the person stole OP’s company computer? Since this is a conference, it’s a good likelihood they’re in the same industry and there’s probably a lot of valuable info on that computer.

      1. Mike C.*

        Holy crap, that would be a huge problem. Or what about ID badges? Proprietary information?

        This is no joke, this is usually how companies/organizations “lose” huge databases full of employee/customer/member information.

    2. INTP*

      And within an organization, ideally the employees themselves have some say in the roommate choices, or at the least, someone aware of their personalities and special needs. This helps avoid crappy situations like the person who absolutely must get sleep to perform being roomed with the one who stumbles in tipsy from “networking” at 2am. A bad roommate can ruin your conference even if it isn’t an extreme situation like a thief or rapist.

      1. Sam*

        Speaking as the person who absolutely can NOT fall asleep without the tv on in the background, and who hits the snooze alarm at least 3-4 times in the morning, I pity any person who would ever get stuck rooming with me. Luckily (for my colleagues!), I work in an industry that doesn’t make me share rooms.

  5. EM*

    This seems so weird and also weird that the scholarship committee presumes you’ll be sharing a room with a stranger.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Right? The scholarship committee said, “Well, another $148 is going to break the bank, so the winner will share a room.”

      1. Melissa*

        Usually these scholarships are given out to more than one person, so it’s an extra $148 per person. If they have 6 winners, for example, that’s nearly $900 extra.

      1. NJ Anon*

        I’d pay for my own room and next time wait until after the conference to tell boss about the scholarship.

    2. INTP*

      Maybe the scholarship is aimed at students or other early career individuals? I’ve heard of shared bedroom housing for internships and similar – it seems like it’s common to assume people under 25 will share rooms with strangers.

    3. AcesoUnderGlass*

      If the scholarship is run by the conference themselves then admission to the conference is not an actual cost to them. It’s possible the hotel room is their biggest expense and splitting it does make a difference.

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      It depends on the industry. In teaching, this would be totally normal, though I would expect the scholarship to say something like “we’ll cover a shared room, but if you want a private room you can pay $X extra.” But teaching is weird and super-frugal.

  6. blueblazes*

    Isn’t it kind of odd that the scholarship requires the writer to share a room? I feel like that is making some pretty major assumptions about their living arrangements (What if one attendee needs to bring a spouse or a child? What if they have a health condition that requires privacy to manage?) and personal comfort with strangers.

    I mean, yes, the boss is being weird, but the whole idea of a scholarship for an adult business conference extending to a shared room is at least as weird.

    1. rPM*

      Yeah, the fact that this is actually a standard part of the scholarship prize is the strangest part to me. Sharing a hotel room with a total stranger on a business trip seems unreasonably awkward at best, and I wouldn’t do it.

      If you follow Allison’s advice and your boss still won’t pay for your room, I think you’ll just need to weigh the professional advantages of attending the conference with the $148 expense / precedent of paying for your own room. And if you get the opportunity to go to another conference, it sounds like you’ll need to plan on discussing housing arrangements well ahead of time and getting a budget approved in writing so you have something to fall back on if they try and “re-allocate” on you again.

    2. Scott M*

      I Googled “scholarship to attend a conference shared room” and this seems to be common practice.

    3. INTP*

      Maybe the scholarship is intended to provide a maximum of places to people who otherwise would not be able to attend at all? Especially if it’s for students or early career professionals. I hate sharing rooms but it makes sense to me if the scholarship is more of a charity program than one meant to attract accomplished individuals for the benefit of the conference.

      1. olives*

        This is my thinking – conference scholarships are rarely intended for mid-career folks who are being funded by their company to go.

      2. Melissa*

        That’s exactly what it is. They’re supposed to subsidize the cost of people who might not otherwise be able to make it, but would benefit from the professional development. And it’s not that students don’t have spouses and children; they usually find other arrangements for those spouses and children while they’re at the conference.

  7. DrPepper Addict*

    This is one I would really like to see an update on. I am interested to see how it turns out.

    One thought I had is, is there any way the potential roommate could be of the opposite sex? If that’s the case and the writer is married or in a relationship there’s a perfect out right there.

    I’ve never traveled for work, so I’m not sure if that’s even a legitimate thing, strangers of the opposite sex sharing a room. I could be way off, but it was the first thing that popped in my mind.

    1. E.R*

      This occurred to me too, although I dont see why being married or in a relationship gives an out where an uncomfortable single person shouldn’t be taken as seriously. I used to travel to yearly conferences with my team, and we would be randomly assigned a roommate within our company, but they never put a man and a woman together. I actually liked sharing a room with co-workers because I got to know them better (and I got lucky with good roommates) but I heard horror stories about drunken stupors, naked sleepwalking, and roommates who brought casual hookups back to the room.

      1. DrPepper Addict*

        I wasn’t saying a single person shouldn’t be taken more seriously, more that the boss might understand that better, especially if he’s married/in a relationship.

        1. Zillah*

          Ehhhhh, I would definitely not assume that the boss would understand better based on relationship status – I think the discomfort of sharing a room with the opposite sex is something that most people can understand on its own. (Also – your entire train of thought is pretty damn heteronormative.)

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Frankly, I’d feel (very, very slightly) more comfortable sharing a room with a strange man now that I’m married; “I’m married” will dissuade some men from hitting on a woman when “I’m not interested” won’t, and my husband can trust me. I wouldn’t feel professional using “My husband wouldn’t like it” as an excuse at work. I can speak up for myself. (Nor would I find it professional for a man to say “My wife wouldn’t like me sharing a room.”)

        2. Anna H.*

          I don’t even get the argument here. So if they’re single and someone hits on them it’s not a big deal? Their personal space doesn’t matter? In fact, some men might think they’re more entitled to single women than married women and so married women could be slightly more safe sharing a room than a single woman who is assumed to be available. What, if a woman is the “property” of a husband, it’s all understandable?

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        Casual hookups backed to a shared room, at a work conference, seriously? That’s absolutely ridiculous, sure it happened when I was backpacking but I can’t imagine anyone thinking that’s appropriate workplace behaviour.

          1. Cat*

            This is what I’ve gathered from my friends in academia, though the awkward stories of trying to collaborate on projects professionally later have convinced me it’s still kind of a terrible idea.

            1. Melissa*

              Conferences are actually pretty interesting places in academia, lol. A lot of the things that happen are terrible ideas!

          2. limenotapple*

            Was going to chime in to say the same thing…I see it all the time at conferences in my field (I’m a librarian). In fact, there is a big legal tussle over something related to this right this moment.

            Personally, I’m at the age I’d rather sleep than hook up anyway :) But I know that it happens a LOT.

          3. Apollo Warbucks*

            I don’t see hooking up as a problem itself. I was more thinking about taking a hook up back to a shared room, being inappropriate.

            1. fposte*

              Definitely agreed there. The hookup rule should be one of you has to have a single room for the venue.

          4. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, see the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Sex and the Conference” . . . from back in 2008 or 09, if I recall.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          I think it’s common enough to be A Thing.

          Although bringing a hookup back to your ROOMMATE/COWORKER takes it to a new level.

        2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          I think the issue is that people don’t always see a conference as The Workplace–it’s more neutral ground, with plenty of people who are in the same boat as you to talk and chat with, and very often free-flowing alcohol–not hard to see how it generates a boatload of hookups.

          The teachers’ conferences I’ve attended would make good fodder for Teachers After Dark.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            Hookups aren’t the issue, I think it shows a lack of respect for your coworker to hook up in a room you’re sharing.

        3. rPM*

          This has actually happened to me on a business trip. Woke up in the hotel room with a naked coworker and naked stranger in the other bed. The coworker was more senior while I was young, non-confrontational and very new to the workforce. I literally couldn’t think of a single thing to say… so we just never, ever spoke of it. Until the coworker asked to room with me again for the same conference the following year and seemed shocked when I refused.

    2. LawBee*

      because if they were both single, it would be totally ok? And hey, maybe sexytimes would ensue a la many an ’80s movie?

      I mean, I don’t disagree with you that having opposite-sex strangers sharing a room is an issue, I just think it’s weird that you only see it as a problem if the OP is coupled-up somehow.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I think you should read Dr. Pepper Addict’s comment again – it’s pretty clear he/she means that it’s a good excuse that might get the boss to take it more seriously.

  8. Karyn*

    I’ve shared rooms at conferences with coworkers, which was fine. But I’d really feel uncomfortable sharing a room with a total stranger. I think you’re right to be weirded out by this.

  9. MK*

    Sharing rooms with a stranger is unheard-of in my field, but I don’t think the OP’s boss is crazily unreasonable. I think it’s a matter of justiying the budgeted funds. It’s one thing to cover the expenses of an employee to attend a conference, it’s another to pay money (even if it is a much lesser sum) for that employee to have a private room, which, reasonable as it is, it’s a matter of personal preference and comfort. If their budget functions with a rigid structure, there might not be a way to justify this claim.

    The fact of the matter is that the company was prepared to pay the larger amount because they had to; there was no way to book the OP in a shared room. They are now refusing to oay because they don’t have to.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      See, I think it’s completely unreasonable to share an intimate space, when people are vulnerable, with a stranger. It’s not just a comfort issue. It’s also a safety issue.

      1. MK*

        I believe that’s something of an exaggeration, to say the least; people are required to romm together under certain circumstances (college dorms, for example). I get the impression that the OP is not afraid; they mention their age, which to me reads as a comfort thing.

        In any case, the shared room is not the boss’ idea, it’s what the organization who provides the scholarship offers to people. The boss is simply refusing to go above what they offer.

        1. Biff*

          Save two people I know, I’ve known no one else who had a good experience with their college room-mate. Stolen stuff was the norm. There was TON of fighting. I knew of more than one case when people got locked out of their room for hours while their roomie had ‘private time.’ There was revenge involving destruction of personal stuff.

          Sharing with strangers isn’t safe.

    2. TCO*

      This organization has six employees. Their budget structure can’t be so rigid that there’s no way to turn a conference budget line item into a lodging budget line item. It’s not like there are 20 layers of bureaucracy and approvals to navigate. Even if they’re reporting/justifying their expenses for grants or government programs, I would imagine that if conference fees are considered appropriate expenses, it’s assumed that those costs include lodging.

      1. Oryx*

        If it’s a nonprofit, there’s a pretty good chance the funding was coming through a grant of some sort, which often have somewhat bizarre requirements for things like travel, etc. We’ve had a couple that stipulated if travel was paid for in another way (via a smaller grant, scholarship, etc), even if it was partial, no funds from that grant could then be used on the same trip. It was some weird tangle up with conflicts of interest and making sure the grant didn’t get associated with specific companies (many of whom do offer such scholarships).

        Of course there’s a much higher chance that the boss is just being a dink :)

        1. dejavu2*

          Even if that is the case, the organization can surely come up with $148 some other way. I’ve worked for multiple small non-profits that were heavily dependent on grants (which is problematic), but we still could have come up with this money. None of my bosses would have ever, ever expected me to share a hotel room with a stranger.

  10. Episkey*

    Totally agree — I was in a very similar circumstance where my nonprofit budgeted for me to attend a conference and then I won a scholarship that paid for me to attend — the budget wasn’t reallocated (like you said, it’s not really feasible) — what happened was that because I won the scholarship, we were able to bring an additional person from our org to the conference with the funds they originally allocated for me (and she was really happy about it!). None of us had to share a hotel room. And I got really sick at that conference, so it was really helpful that I had my own room.

  11. Natalie*

    More of an academic question, but what does the scholarship committee do if the winners aren’t the same gender? Or even numbers of the same gender if many scholarships are awarded.

    1. AW*

      I’m hoping they had enough sense to ask for the applicants’ gender so as to make sure that didn’t happen.

      5 bucks says there was no way to indicate whether you’re transgender (and need a roommate who would not freak out about that).

      1. Zillah*

        But that would mean that they decided the winners based in part of their gender, which is even more messed up.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          Probably not. My guess is they asked, paired, and if they had an odd number of one sex or the other, somebody got his or her own room.

    2. Melissa*

      I’ve been in several of these scholarship programs before. Usually they have a roughly even number, and they pair same-gender winners together. When they have uneven numbers, they will give the odd man/woman out a private room.

  12. TCO*

    $148 to give you a professional development opportunity that will improve your skills and retain you as a talented employee is a bargain. This is especially true when your workplace doesn’t provide many other financial perks, such as bonuses or big raises, which I’m assuming yours doesn’t since your boss is quibbling about $148.

    A smart boss would realize this and find a way to get you that hotel room. Your boss doesn’t seem to be very smart in this area. No matter how great he may be in other realms, take this as a sign that he doesn’t know much about professional development and employee retention. Is that blind spot bad enough that you should leave your job? Probably not, since it sounds like things are usually pretty good. But be aware of this gap, because it means you’ll have to continue being really proactive about seeking (and funding) future growth opportunities. You have to take your career into your own hands, because he’s shown he isn’t willing or able to help you progress.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      As a manager, I would probably pay for the hotel out of my own pocket before I told an employee the company wanted to her to share for a stranger. To your point about retention, that kind of garbage would have me questioning whether I wanted to continue working at a company that sees this as a reasonable requirement.

      1. TCO*

        I think there’s often some pressure for employees (managers or otherwise) at nonprofits with modest budgets to pay for expenses out of pocket. Everyone I know who works at those types of orgs has picked up the cost of an occasional meal, or party, or supplies, or travel. It’s similar to how teachers always end up spending money on classroom supplies. (My last job paid for me to go to a conference but didn’t have any policy about paying for meals/per diems. I only got reimbursed for my meals because my boss pushed the leadership to pay for them. It wasn’t the best-managed place.)

        But I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect the boss, who may not be making much himself, to pony up $148 out of his own pocket for such a necessary expense. It’s not like he’s paying for a round of drinks at an office happy hour; this is much more critical to the organization’s work. There’s no excuse for the organization to refuse to pay for this itself when they had already budgeted much more for the OP to attend. The exception would be if there had been an unexpected shortfall and they told the OP in advance that they had to cut budgets.

        The OP is this organization’s fundraiser. I’m sure she brings in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, if not more. To endanger her talents, happiness, and willingness to stay with the organization over $148 penny wise and pound foolish.

        1. Bend & Snap*

          I didn’t say the boss should be expected to pay. I said in the boss’s shoes, I would pay. Big difference.

          1. TCO*

            All I meant to imply was that OP (or others in this situation) shouldn’t necessarily expect their boss to pay out-of-pocket, nor should a boss feel pressured to do so. It’s great that you would act generously in this scenario, but I just wanted to counter the expectation that this is how things should be in the nonprofit industry, even though in reality they often are.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Agree with many other commenters that the boss has re-allocated that money in his mind. I also think that because the boss is in the NFP world, he sees nothing wrong with sharing a room (and/or has done it himself). But for a lot of people, it is a big deal for personal, health, security, etc. reasons. I am someone who’s shared rooms with co-workers and industry colleagues and who doesn’t generally mind it (just don’t make me go to a party and dance with them), because the way I see it, I’m there to SLEEP. But I can totally see how this would be a deal-breaker for many people. Your boss is being incredibly petty over $148 when you’ve just saved him a grand (unless he was planning to make you share a room anyway?). If this was a deal-breaker for me, I’d also pay for the single room and never apply for a scholarship again. But it does sound like the industry and organization culture is shared rooms, unfortunately.

  13. Emily*

    A couple years ago I attended an industry conference as one of a dozen or so “young professionals” (roughly defined as under 30 or so) sponsored as part of an effort to encourage early career professionals to attend. We were told we’d be sharing rooms, unless we really needed a single, which I was okay with because I was traveling with a coworker I wouldn’t mind sharing with. But then to encourage “networking” we weren’t allowed to room with others from our same companies. Turns out, all of the men attending through the program had requested their own rooms, and all of the women had gone along with the accommodations offered. At the end, the woman who had come on board to assist the previous organizer decided they wouldn’t do rooms that way again, based on the feedback received.
    I’ve shared rooms with strangers for student programs before, and I understand the need to save money there. But as a professional, I wouldn’t do it again.

    1. Another Ellie*

      I’ve had a similar “young professionals” conference experience, although I was going to the conference with my spouse, so we got to be in the same room without any problems. In fact, it was possible for attendees to request to be with a specific other person if they wanted, but not to request a single room.

      The best part was that this was in Berlin. The bathrooms in the hotel rooms were a sink in the room, a glassed-in shower, and a glassed in toilet room. You could pull a shower curtain around the entire area, but, like all good shower curtains, it wasn’t actually long enough to completely go from end to end, so no matter what there was a 10 inch gap at one side or the other. The room-sharing attendees nicknamed this the “awkward shower.”

      1. Joline*

        At least you had a shower curtain.

        I was staying in a hotel room with a friend (luckily it wasn’t a work situation) in Hamburg and the shower was a glass-walled shower with no curtain in the corner of the room. The other person would just read a book or gaze out the window at the alley or something. The toilet was shared with other people on the floor and was accessed from in the hall – it had a locking door (woo!).

      2. TychaBrahe*

        Not at a conference, but I went to an event with my nephew (I’m female) and discovered that the shower had a window into the bedroom. The window was mostly smoked, but there was a flower pattern of clear glass. We very awkwardly looked the other way while the other showered.

      3. VintageLydia USA*

        I stayed at a hotel in midtown NYC with a similar set up. The entire bathroom was walled only in glass with the bottom half only slightly frosted. It made the otherwise teeny room seem a bit bigger, and thankfully I was with my husband, but one of the reviews for the hotel on tripadvisor was a father of a preteen girl who I guess didn’t look carefully at the photos on the website.

    2. Zillah*

      Wow. That’s so disheartening, though I’m glad they decided they wouldn’t do it that way again.

  14. AnotherAnon*

    When I was applying to graduate programs years ago, the schools paid for our air travel and lodging expenses. The lodging was always a hotel room shared with 1 other applicant of the same sex who I’d never met before the interview weekend. I didn’t really enjoy this part of the interview (being an introvert who needs solo time to recharge and highly values privacy), but I had to make it work. Usually my assigned roommate was nice, and we did end up networking (and I’m Facebook friends with a few of them, even some that didn’t come to the program I chose).

    OP, I do think your boss is being unreasonable here, but I would also caution you against making a big deal out of this if your boss won’t budge. Ideally you’d be able to have a rational conversation and get him to agree to pay the difference so you can get a private room, but if he’s unwilling to budge after talking again, I’d be careful about not turning this into a “this is the hill I die on” argument that will negatively damage your relationship. It might be worth just paying the difference yourself to get a single room and chalking the cost up to professional development.

  15. BizzieLizzie*

    Do NOT do this. I did this – once with a co-worker I did not know. She was unstable & developed ‘feelings’ because we had ‘shared a room for 3 nights’. In a subsequent work assignment, she ended up mildly assaulting me because of those ‘feelings’.
    Note – I”m fine with all this, was years ago & I’m not the type to worry or dwell on stuff like this, can even see a slightly funny side if very pushed – but as a matter of personal safety – do not do this.
    Pay the money yourself – your personal safety is worth it.

    1. Squirrel!*

      This is a good time to point out that the whole “OMG WHAT IF THEY’RE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX” thing doesn’t mean same-sex roommates won’t cause problems either. Rooming with a man won’t magically turn him into a sex-crazed attacker, and rooming with a woman won’t magically make her into a turbo-slut bent on destroying your relationship, or whatever. Crazy comes in all flavors and that’s why I would feel unsafe sharing a room with a total stranger, regardless of their sex.

  16. Me*

    Well now you know–don’t go to any effort to try to save the company money for something like this. No good deed goes unpunished.

  17. Renegade Rose*

    I’ve seen too many Criminal Minds episodes to be comfortable sharing a hotel room with a stranger.

  18. Apollo Warbucks*

    I wouldn’t mind sharing a room, but I can absolutly see why people might be against the idea, if this is the thanks you get for trying to save money then I don’t see there being any incentive to be so frugal in future. It strikes me as fundermentally unfair that your boss won’t let you claim the money for a room

    Unfortunately some companies are like that, there’s a conference I want to go to in a few months time and the Saturday is fee to attend, I asked about expensing a train ticket and hotel room on Friday night as the event starts at 8:00 and is 2 hours travel from home. I was told id get the money back for the train but not the hotle. I’m pretty pissed as I wasn’t going to get any comp time for whst will be a 10 hour day or claim for food, but I’ll pay the hotel out of pocket as it’s worth $60 not to have a 5 am start to the day.

  19. AnotherAlison*

    I once shared a conference hotel room with a stranger. It was an annual conference for an organization of self-employed consultants in a particular field, and they had a room share request webpage where you could add a post saying you wanted to share a room. The whole experience was fine, and actually the roommate turned out to be fairly interesting.

    That said, if I worked for a corporation, I absolutely would not share a room. Since the OP’s company is small, I think it would have been reasonable to request the room share, but not when a scholarship was won to cover the majority of the costs!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I had to share on the Caledonian Sleeper train to Scotland–I couldn’t afford a first-class ticket and in standard, they pair you up with a same-sex compartment mate. They’ve been doing it for years with little problem. There is no shower, so that wasn’t an issue. My compartment mate traveled the route every week for work and she was very nice. The only problem we had was that our neighbor coughed all. night. long. The walls on the train are very thin. We got very little sleep. I got the compartment to myself going back because there was a booking error.

      In the train instance, I wasn’t expecting to have any privacy, so it wasn’t a big deal. If I stayed at a hostel, it would be the same–no expectation of real privacy. I’d have to share a bathroom at least. A hotel at a conference, though? Yeah, I’d want a room to myself, in case I wanted to work late or go to sleep early.

  20. Zhook*

    The culture of my previous nonprofit job was for coworkers to share beds. :(. Double beds. It was a great day when we got a corporate sponsor who sprang for single rooms.

    1. Fucshia*

      Wait… Double beds meaning you even had to share a bed? Are you in the US or elsewhere? In the US, most double occupancy rooms have 2 beds, so at least bed sharing isn’t common.

        1. Zhook*

          5! 2 double beds, 1 cot. So weird. I don’t even like sharing a double with my husband.

          Happily, I work for a much less poor NGO now.

          1. Marcy*

            I had to do this once a year when I worked for a for-profit bank (not in the US). Usually the rooms were smaller than the US so they would only have 1 double bed and a cot. We would have three people in that room. If there were 2 beds and a cot, we would have 5. The worst part was our day started by meeting at 6:42 (I don’t know why 6:42 and not 6:40 or 6:45) in the lobby for a run (walking was permitted but discouraged and the event was mandatory) and then we all had to be showered and have eaten breakfast by the time the conference started at 8:00. Try three-five women in a room with one shower and very little time between getting back from the run and eating breakfast. Two of us had our own method- we showed up in the lobby for attendance, started out running slower than everyone else for five minutes so there was no one behind us, turned around and went back to the room, showered and ate breakfast in peace. Everyone always wondered how we managed to get to breakfast so fast.

    2. Another Emily*

      Double beds are fine when I’m going on a trip with good friends. Not with coworkers! Yeesh, that sounds so awkward.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        We had to do this when on a choir trip in college. Shared beds and everything. Four to a room. I found it so unpleasant that I swore I would never do it again. I didn’t mind sharing the room with choirmates, but BEDS was a bit much.

        1. Ann without an e*

          Me too, for all college choir. I had completely forgotten about that until I read your post…..memories. I didn’t find it that weird. Well the pregnant chick that liked to eat pickled pigs feet at midnight was weird but that would have struck me as weird regardless of the sleeping arrangements.

    3. manybellsdown*

      I’ve done this at a conference. And yeah, it was a nonprofit. I wouldn’t have minded so much if I hadn’t been 6 months pregnant at the time. Also there was only one male employee on the trip, so he got his own room and the women got stuck sharing.

      1. Zillah*

        Does anyone have any stories about a situation where women got their own rooms and men who get stuck sharing? Because all of these comments, while not surprising in the least, are making me go :( :( :(

        1. RobM*

          I’m not sure why gender or any other aspect of the individuals concerned matters. I think it’s pretty disrespectful for any organisation to expect two strangers to share a room. I wouldn’t be happy to be told I was sharing a room with someone I worked with, let alone a stranger. I don’t see this as a feeling that would change if only I (and/or they) were a different gender or age group or whatever.

          1. Zillah*

            I don’t think gender does affect whether or not people are comfortable sharing a room with coworkers/strangers – but it absolutely can affect whether or not you’re put in a position where you have to, as evidenced by multiple comments on this post alone.

            1. RobM*

              You’re not wrong there and it makes me sad. I simply mean to say that my position would simply be that I was unhappy to share period, because I dislike sharing a room with people I don’t know well enough to share a room with outside of work (in other words, while strangers might be worse, I’d still find it unacceptable to share a room with someone from work). I wouldn’t allow the person I was ‘pleading my case with’ to frame it in terms of anything else about gender or whatever because that’s a pathway towards them justifying refusing to listen to your request.

        2. Anonymouse*

          There was the time my startup had funding for two rooms at a conference, with three people–two straight guys and one queer woman–who wanted to attend. The boss (one of the guys) took a room to himself, and my coworker and I shared a room. Wicked uncomfortable although nothing bad happened. And we at least had separate beds. I can’t imagine having to share a bed with a colleague.

        3. Anx*

          Actually I’ve heard of women getting their own far more often. Usually because they are the only woman in the group going, though.

          1. PoorDecisions101*

            Not quite the same, but I got to stay in the more expensive hotel when we had a company policy of going with the cheapest in the area because I was a girl in my early twenties, the cheaper option was well known for their working girls and my manager was uncomfortable making me stay there.

    4. TaterB*

      You just reminded me why I left a gig at a well-known nonprofit. My boss was all excited about the annual conference the next year…I was too. It was in a state I had never visited. Then, she mentioned how we would get used to sharing a room.

      Sharing a….WHAT?!?!

      I am definitely an ambivert–squarely in the middle. That recharging time is important to me and I could not imagine spending three nights in a room with my boss. I also have a shy colon….which I’m surprised no one else mentioned here.

  21. Amy*

    In my professional organization it’s commonplace to share a room, and there’s a roommate finding service. These “strangers” are colleagues in a specialty that includes fewer than 1,000 people. If it’s a small specialized conference, sharing with a stranger wouldn’t be a big deal. It’s true that you network that way.

    1. fposte*

      Right, it’s a bit like summer camp. As noted up thread it happens in grad school, too, especially in fellowships where you’re sharing program experience.

    2. NotMyRealName*

      The conference I attended last fall was nearly 3500 and had a roommate service. Thankfully my company paid for my solo room.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      The last conference I went to had a roommate finding service, and several members of my chapter were required by their departmental budgets to share a room. Some of them bunked with other of our own members and some used the service. I don’t think anyone had a bad experience, but I was really grateful that my boss didn’t make me do it and that I had my own room.

  22. meetoo*

    Urrg, I shared a room with a stranger at the last conference I went to. Hotels were very expensive so most people were sharing. First she was not happy because she wanted to share with a friend but the organizers had assigned rooms and would not switch us around. Who wants to share with someone who does not want to share with you so it was off to a bad start. Then I got badly injured, broken hand and torn muscle in my leg. This made managing my injuries so much more difficult. My roommate was mad that I took extra time in the bathroom. It was really hard to stay quiet in the night when I was in severe pain tossing around getting up for more ice….. She was generally unpleasant and passive aggressive to me the whole time and it was no fun. I learned my lesson you just never know what might come up. I will never share with a stranger again.

  23. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’m not a fan of room sharing. It’s bad enough when you know the person. It can be even worse when you’re sharing with a stranger.

    When I was in college, there was a common expectation that students would share rooms for travel. On one occasion, I was in a study abroad program that required room sharing. Thankfully, my friend was also in the program and we requested to be together. When we went to check into the hotel, there weren’t nearly enough double rooms for everyone. Several of us, including myself, ended up sharing a bed until more double rooms opened up. (Yes, we all had reservations. Unfortunately, the hotel did not bother to save the double rooms for us.) Sharing a bed was bad enough when I was actually friends with the person. Some of the other students actually had to share a bed with strangers. To make matters worse, the hotel had no a/c and there was a crazy heat wave.

    On another occasion, I won a scholarship to attend a prestigious national conference and was asked to share a room with a stranger. Although I could hardly afford it, I paid extra out-of-pocket to avoid doing so. During the conference, there were at least two incidents of accused roommate trouble. The first involved theft and the second involved same-sex sexual assault. I totally feel like I dodged a bullet.

    1. LawBee*

      just a tiny observation that sexual assault is sexual assault – it doesn’t make a difference if it’s same-sex or opposite-sex.

        1. Artemesia*

          Generally people who run these programs see ‘no problem’ with putting two women or two men together. The fact that this is not ‘safe’ is why it is in fact important to mention that these were same sex assaults.

          1. dejavu2*

            I’m gay and don’t think this is offensive, particularly since so many comments here specifically express outrage over the idea of an opposite sex roommate.

        2. Anx*

          I would think it does matter, though? If a man and a woman get drunk and hook up, it is more likely to be perceived that a man sexual assaulted a woman. Which seems to make a difference legally. If two women get drunk and hook up, they are in the same boat, no?

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        Oh, I totally agree. For some reason I worried that not specifying opened the possibility that the stranger room-sharing was happening with people of the opposite gender. Same-gender room sharing doesn’t necessarily prevent sexual assault.

      2. M*

        Coming from another perspective and as a member of the queer community, I’m actually a little pleased/saddened/fhkjehgjkrehdsk to see “same-sex sexual assault” called out–conflicting feelings, obviously, but a lot of people don’t think it’s a thing that happens, especially among queer women! Statistically speaking, as a queer woman I’m safer staying with a member of the same gender, but it’s not impossible for something to happen to me and I wish people thought about that sometimes.

      3. Boo*

        I know what you mean but I think it’s relevant to mention here as a lot of people have mentioned how awful it would be if the roommate was of the opposite sex, so I think Ann was just making the point that the roommate being of the same gender or married or whatever doesn’t necessarily make them “safe”.

        1. Zillah*

          Yeah, that was my interpretation of Ann’s specifying, too – not that it’s in some way categorically different.

  24. Lefty*

    There are no circumstances (in my world as it is now at least) where I would agree to share a hotel room with a complete stranger. If I could not get my company to pay $150 for me to have a safe comfortable place to sleep while I was conducting their business, I would pay for it myself and then immediately upon my return begin job searching.

    Frankly, if this company can’t afford $150 for a business expense, I think it would be prudent to begin looking anyway. I wouldn’t feel comfortable working for any organization that is that poor. It sounds like they’re a couple of late client payments away from disaster. If they’re not poor, and just that cheap, that doesn’t really bode well either.

    1. AMG*

      Exactly. This rubs me the wrong way from a physical comfort perspective, but also out of principle. It’s disrespectful and thoughtless, and for no good purpose except that they can.

  25. Cath in Canada*

    I once shared a room with two strangers, at a conference when I was a 26-year-old postdoc. They were the grad students of a friend of my supervisor, so at least there was some accountability there, for want of a better word. Luckily they were both super nice and we had a blast at the conference. But it was still awkward, especially in the mornings, and I ended up using the bathrooms in the reception area more often than the one in the room, which was a hassle.

    I totally get not wanting to do this once you’re older, though. I’m going to a good friend’s wedding in England next month, and I emailed another friend who’s attending so we could coordinate our plans. She suggested that we share a room at a hotel near the venue, and I hesitated even before agreeing to that, and we’ve been good friends for 25 years! (At least I’ll have someone to help me with the zip on my wedding outfit, which I can’t reach by myself without dislocating my shoulder… and she’s going to take care of the booking, which is easier than me doing it from Canada).

      1. Cath in Canada*

        There’s a >90% chance that our biggest problem will be lack of sleep due to chatting too much. At least that’s the way it always used to work at slumber parties and on camping trips!

  26. Artemesia*

    I can still remember the embarrassment of being ill in the night at a conference nearly 40 years ago where I had to share with an acquaintance/colleague. It was awful, trying to be quiet and being totally embarrassed. I never shared a room at a conference again.

    1. littlemoose*

      This is my fear too. I have multiple GI conditions and really strongly prefer privacy in the bathroom. It’s not the kind of thing I want to tell everyone about either, so telling a boss or conference organizer that I didn’t want to share a room for that reason would be mortifying.

      1. Anon this time*

        And some of us snore! Not as serious as an illness, but definitely embarrassing with a stranger or coworker.

        1. simonthegrey*

          Or have insomnia. I’m up tossing and turning pretty late. We have a white noise machine in our room because even the sound of someone breathing near me can keep me awake. When my husband and I have to travel without it, I have to leave a fan on. In a hotel room that might mean a bathroom fan running all night. Trust me, it isn’t like I want to still be awake at 3:00 am contemplating my life choices. Sharing with a stranger….nope.

          1. Newhouse*

            I actually asked about something similar in last Friday’s thread – I make terrible noises while sleeping and would rather pay multiple days of hotel costs by myself than share a room (and I also bet no one would be wanting to share with me after one night together anyway).

  27. Poohbear McGriddles*

    Apparently they are teaching managers these days that employees desire open offices and shared hotel rooms.

    It sounds like the organization was originally planning to pay for a single hotel room, plus all other expenses. The registration alone was probably significantly more than the hotel cost, not to mention meals, etc. Still, it seems like the manager is seeing that line item at $0 now, so any more changes only increase the cost. What the OP needs to do now is show the numbers in two columns – original costs, and costs with scholarship plus single hotel room. The rows for registration, meals, etc. will all drop to $0, while the hotel cost will be the same as originally budgeted.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      employees desire open offices and shared hotel rooms.

      Hah! :) And may we have work toilets with glass walls like mentioned above too? We’re such a team we don’t want any privacy ever!

  28. Katherine Jameson*

    I would be so angry if my boss would “make” me share a room with a stranger. To the point where I would not even attend the function.

    1. AMG*

      I would be tempted too. But OP says that s/he feels that it would be a professional mistake. There’s no clear path to victory on this IMO.

      1. Katherine Jameson*

        I know. I realize this is wishful thinking, and really, it seems we (general we…workers) have to put up with an awful lot of crap these days as our rights have been pretty much chipped away. But man, I would be so incredibly angry and resentful. I am very go-with-the-flow in many, many regards, but this is ridiculous and wrong.

    2. Artemesia*

      She should pay the difference, go to the conference and use the opportunity to network like crazy and find a job elsewhere and give her two weeks notice asap — preferably just before the heaviest fund raising season so her boss can cope with that. But I am not a vengeful harpie — not me.

  29. David*

    Cripes…there are people in my office I’m uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with, much less a hotel room.

    Sharing a room was all fine and well when I was in my early 20s, travelling with a bunch of people I regularly worked with and literally using the room as solely a place to sleep after spending the night at the bar. Heck, we sometimes put 4 people in a room.

    But that was my early 20s. Back then I was also regularly crashing on friends couches or floors when I travelled out of town for personal reasons. Getting my own bed, or even half a queen, in a hotel room was living large!

    But I’m a lot older now. And admittedly more curmudgeonly. If my organization tried putting me in a room with a stranger (or even one of those folks I don’t like sharing a bathroom with), I’d tell them to take a hike. Ain’t happening. I’m no longer sleeping on couches when I travel or sharing a hotel room with 6 other friends to save a buck, so I sure as hell don’t plan on doing it when I’m travelling on someone else’s dime for their benefit.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, I think a lot of people (not everyone) tend to be a bit looser about privacy when they’re younger, especially if they’ve been in dormitory situations. And as kids, we had tons of sleepovers so crashing at people’s apartments, etc. in college was no big deal. I’ve slept on people’s floors. But now that I’m a “grown-up,” it just feels weird.

      During the 2007 ice storm disaster, my home was powerless in sub-freezing weather for twelve days. I spent most of that at motels, but the one night I wasn’t covered, a coworker offered me space at her home. She gave up her bedroom for me. It was incredibly generous, but also incredibly awkward!

  30. Goldie*

    I used to know someone closely who worked in the academia (I’ve worked in corporate environments all my life), and was shocked to find out that, in spite of all the crazy perks they get – paid college tuition for their children at just about any school in the country, several months’ vacation time, conferences and teamwork opportunities all around the world – that it is expected for two adults in their 30s, 40s, or 50s to share a hotel room at those conferences or business trips. I get that it’s corporate culture. However, it doesn’t appear to be a similar question of corporate culture in the OP’s situation. Rather, the letter seems to say that OP’s employer was initially okay with covering hotel costs, then after finding out that they would be covered by a scholarship, they happily backed out of that obligation; and are trying to remain backed out of it by giving the OP crazy reasons like “it’s a networking opportunity”. No it’s not. Sharing a bedroom and a bathroom with a stranger isn’t a networking opportunity.

    Personally, in OP’s shoes, if this was a really good conference that I felt could be useful for me in my future career, even after leaving my current job, I’d pay the difference – but only after negotiating it with the boss one more time (re Option 4).

    1. Goldie*

      I should’ve read the other comments before posting – but yes, I’m in agreement with everyone above who said that the boss decided that, because the scholarship now covers a hotel room, that he no longer has to – and he doesn’t really care about the specifics such as, do they cover a whole room or just one bed in a room for two people etc.

    2. blackcat*

      Now being in academia, I am so, so grateful that I have a former professor/colleague/friend who has the same sleep habits as me. Last time we went to the same conference, we both got single dorm rooms (which was cheap! and private! and… a… dorm…), which also is possible at many academic conferences. Not the best accommodation, but I’ll take a private dorm room with a shared bath over a shared hotel room any day!

      1. Goldie*

        Oh I didn’t know it was possible! My former friend was always happily rooming with his colleagues or students. I’m like you; I’d take a private dorm room instead any day!

    3. No Free Lunch*

      I want to work where your friend works. :-)

      Most academics don’t actually get paid tuition at just about any school in the country, and I don’t know of *any* who get months of vacation. Most private schools offer a good tuition break–often full tuition–but you usually have to work there for a while (one I can think of makes you work there for SEVEN YEARS before you get the break; people start applying there when their kids are in kindergarten). During that time you’ll usually have a laughable salary and sometimes fairly poor working conditions, like, say, buildings that haven’t been renovated in 40 years with desk chairs from the 80s (that’s a real example from the last private university I worked for).

      Most *public* institutions offer some kind of tuition break, but it’s rarely full tuition. Full-time employees might get half tuition for themselves (that’s how I paid for my master’s), but it’s still pretty uncommon for employees at a public institution to get much of a break for their dependents. My husband’s institution just announced recently that they’re extending the half tuition break to dependents. The one where we both used to work (a very large state system) offered one free class a semester for a full-time employee and nothing for spouses or dependents, and that was paid for by the union, so if you weren’t in one of the job categories that was represented by the union, no free school for you.

      Even if you get a tuition break, you still have to pay taxes on it. Using that same private institution where I worked as an example, it granted full tuition for employees, spouses, and dependents after only one year’s employment, but then you had to pay income tax on about $30K a year for a full-time student. Which is still better than paying $30K a year, but if you make less than $30K (which several people in my department did; in the private sector they would have made at least $45K for their jobs) you’re paying *twice* the income tax, which isn’t easy.

      I’m not trying to be argumentative or anything. I’ve just noticed that a lot of people think higher-ed employees have all these great benefits that we don’t actually have. So I try to dispel some of the myths about the perks of academia whenever I can. :-)

      As far as the months of vacation… well, even most faculty these days don’t get to take the summers off. Every seven years tenured faculty usually get a sabbatical, but it’s not really a vacation; they’re expected to produce research during that time. Staff and untenured faculty don’t get sabbaticals, and most don’t get summers off. Those who are on a 10-month contract get paid for 10 months, so that’s not really a vacation, it’s just unpaid leave.

      And yes, we do often have to share rooms with co-workers or strangers. One memorable year, several of my colleagues were able to get their registration and transportation paid to a very expensive city for a conference, but couldn’t afford the conference hotel and ended up staying at the Y. They were mostly in their 30s at the time, long past the age that most professionals want to be sleeping on cots and using a communal bathroom when they’re attending their field’s major annual conference. My husband has had to room with strangers more than once. Nobody’s ever very happy about it, but it’s just one of the realities of working in public higher ed. Unless you’re in administration, in which case, yeah, it’s pretty much high salaries, private penthouse suites at conferences, months of vacation, and parties all the time. Oh, and free parking for your school-provided transport unicorn. :-)

    4. Melissa*

      It’s not really that it’s *expected*, per se (at least past graduate school); it’s that travel budgets are often woefully inadequate and professors often share rooms to save money so they can go to more conferences. A lot of professors trying to get tenure might be expected to speak at 2-3 conferences per year – and that’s not including invited talks at other campuses or travel for trainings and research – but they might get like a $1500 or $2000 travel budget or something. Since conference hotels are usually pretty pricy (and hotels raise prices around the conference time in the city) a lot of times you can save cash by rooming with someone else. FWIW, though, all of my professors got single rooms when they traveled. I do sometimes meet junior professors from other campuses who room together by choice, but I never meet any mid-career people in their 40s and 50s who room with someone else.

      Also, as a tad side note, I guess professors technically get months of vacation (most are on 9-month contracts) but in reality they usually spend that time doing research, which is a requirement of the job but difficult to do at full speed during the school year when teaching. Even the professors I know who teach fewer than 4 classes a year work 12 months a year, regardless of what their contracts say, although they do usually travel more often in the summer. They often cover their summer salary with grants.

  31. Seal*

    Not to excuse your manager’s stupidity on this, but perhaps your getting alternative funding caught him off-guard and he responded before he had a chance to think it through. At my previous job, I received approval to attend a conference on the library’s dime. Because I was in library school at the time, I qualified for a much-discounted student rate. Thinking that the administration would be grateful that I was saving them money, I submitted my travel form with a note stating why I qualified for the student rate. Instead, I received a very nasty email from the finance office basically accusing me of trying to scam the library because they would only pay for staff members to attend, not library school students. Fortunately, one of the few savvy administrators in the library straightened things out for me and I received an apology from the fool who sent me the email, but the whole thing left a very bad taste in my mouth. I never made the mistake of trying to save the library money again.

    Also, I attend 3-5 overnight conferences and meetings a year and have never once been asked or expected to share a hotel room.

  32. The Bookworm*

    This is off on a tangent – this reminded me of years ago when my sister was a new manager. She had her small department attend a conference and not only did 4 women share a room – since there were only 2 beds, they had share a bed too.

    When she told me about it, I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe ANYONE would have co-workers share a bed. Yet she didn’t see anything wrong with it. Her logic was that it would save money & they were all “friends”. I hope I was able to convince her never to do that again.

    1. Student*

      Oh, that happened to me once, too. Not enough beds in the hotel room, and no warning in advance. And not enough room to even sleep on the floor. I was very unhappy about the situation. I would’ve rented my own hotel room, but it was a big tourist spot on a small island – no other hotel rooms available, you have to book weeks in advance or stay somewhere on the mainland. So, some poor co-worker had to share a bed with me.

      Worst part is, I had a communicable skin disease at the time and didn’t know it.

  33. SouthernBelle*

    I remember having to share a room with a stranger when I went to training. There were 3 of us from my location and I was the only woman. The room was a suite with one bedroom and a pullout couch, so the first person to arrive had the advantage of where they would sleep (which is terrible unless you’re first, and I was). The woman I shared with was nice enough but it was so very awkward in the beginning. I don’t remember if I knew that this was going to happen ahead of time but I was at a point in my life where things like that wouldn’t have bothered me. Now, not so much; I’d move mountains to ensure that I had my privacy. If this means a lot to you, I’d broach the subject again using the points others have mentioned OR pay the difference and skip out on finding cost-saving measures in the future if they’re only going to penalize you for it.

  34. Student*

    When this happened to me, I decided the conference was worth enough to my professional development to pay out of pocket for a hotel. I found a super-budget hotel nearby that cost less per day than my per diem for food. I only talked to my boss after I’d booked the other hotel room, and said that I wouldn’t share a room with a stranger for medical reasons. The boss was kind enough to reimburse me for the out-of-pocket hotel room. Then I never asked to go to another conference from that boss again and found a different job where they don’t expect me to sleep with strangers.

    One thing you could try is hitting up the scholarship people. Ask if they’ll cover a solo room for you.

    I don’t understand why people are okay sharing hotel rooms with strangers. You have no real way to hold the stranger accountable for all sorts of bad behavior. At least with a work colleague, you can potentially impact their career if they assault you or steal from you.

    1. Mean Something*

      I agree that you should backtrack to the scholarship people. When you organize this sort of thing, sometimes there are extra rooms, or you know there’s a participant who is local or staying locally, or the gender thing doesn’t work out and you know someone’s going to get a single anyway. Be polite, convey that you’re just asking in case there’s a way to accommodate you, and you might get lucky.

      But I also agree that your boss is being ridiculous.

  35. AW*

    He said that once I won the scholarship, the budgeted funds were reallocated (which is literally impossible, because I notified him that I won the scholarship and that it included a shared room at the same time).

    Am I the only one wondering if the boss was lying about having allocated funds for this in the first place?

    1. Goldie*

      I would not be surprised. I once was on a business trip where I shared a room WITH MY BOSS. He was a male in his late 30s and I was a female in my early 30s. He had a thing for me. He told me the company owner was so stingy, he’d only agreed to cover one hotel room for us on that trip. I believed him then, but now I really think my boss had made that whole story up.

        1. Goldie*

          Oh, it didn’t feel horrible then – I was new and didn’t know any better, and was just excited to go on a real business trip.

          We stayed at a Motel 8 too. Hardcore business travel.

          My next job was at a Fortune 500 where we had to travel to the company’s 17 plants throughout North America, and sharing rooms was unheard of – as was staying at motels. You had to have your own room at a decent hotel.

  36. Not Sharing*

    Original poster here. Thanks for the comments everyone. I feel like the universe is on my side.

    I haven’t raised the issue again with my boss, but I will keep many of these points in mind when I do. I found out that the organization will have to pay only $74 for me to have a private room.

    I will let you all know how it turns out.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      That really is a no brainer, I hope your boss sees reason $70 bucks is nothing to pay for you to go to the conference, it’s almost insulting to quibble over such a smal amount.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      That’s what I was thinking — it shouldn’t be $150 for you for a private room, it should only be half that amount. If worst comes to worst, I’d be willing to bet that the person you’re supposed to share with isn’t over the moon about the idea, either. If both of you paid $74, you could both have private rooms. If you can’t get your boss to see reason beforehand, try and see if you can contact the person you are supposed to share with, if they’re willing or able to spend $74, you could give that person that amount and then have your own rooms when you get onsite.

  37. sev*

    Anyone who considers it a “networking opportunity” must sleep very sweetly. Me, I sleep rather violently, so sharing a room would be the exact opposite of a networking opportunity. Examples? Of course!

    – Sitting up and growling, “What the [CUSS].” And then realizing it wasn’t a dream.
    – Making whiny pain noises during a particularly bad spell of muscle pain, which usually happens when I travel. And then waking up realizing it’s been going on for quite some time.
    – In that half-asleep middle-of-the-night confusion, hitting my partner in the face and growling, “What the [CUSS] are YOU doin’?!” And then waking up feeling awful.

    It’s not like I have any control over it, but that doesn’t make it any less unpleasant to room with me. And I wouldn’t want to (shouldn’t have to!) explain that, no, I’m not exaggerating. I’ve had to explain before, and just the explanation was enough to harm my reputation and future. When you tell people these kinds of things, it makes them assume you’re “broken” somehow, and therefore too untrustworthy/mentally unstable/weird to be given any opportunities.

    Seriously, travel-arrangement-makers, stop assuming that everyone is like you.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’ve shared so many hostle dorm rooms and shared houses with loads of people, the things you describe are very common and I’m sure there’s a lot of people that aren’t going to be judgmental, it’s a shame you’ve had a bad experience when you’ve had to tell people.

  38. Katie Kaboom*

    I traveled a lot in my last job, and sharing rooms (although not with a stranger) was expected. I always paid for my own room after sharing a few times because I HATED it. It’s one of the main reasons I no longer work in that job.

  39. Kristina*

    I am an admin for a sales team and regularly schedule travel arrangements for some of them. I don’t get to decide if they have to share a room, but I can make the request to the group arranging whatever they are traveling for.
    The best advise I can offer is to tell your boss something slightly embarrassing – it works for my team all the time. Suggestions that have worked for them are that they snore really loudly and don’t want to ruin someone else’s sleep and the other was that my rep was pregnant and having “tummy trouble” but with as common as IBS is, “tummy trouble” in the evenings (presumably when you would be in your room) is reasonable.

    1. Zillah*

      Or hell, what about just saying that you have insomnia and are often up later than most people? That can be a real issue especially if whoever you’re sharing with is a light sleeper.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I’m a light sleeper, and I like to be in bed by 9 to 9:30 pm. I can’t deal with the lights or TV on when I’m trying to sleep.

  40. Barney Stinson*

    Have not read all the comments, so I apologize if this is redundant:

    If boss still balks, pay the difference yourself for the private room and then use the conference and all that networking to find another job.

    1. Goldie*

      I said that, but since I tacked it on to the end of a very redundant comment, it was probably overlooked. Thanks for bringing it up, agree 100%.

  41. Preston*

    I am confused, is the OP a student or an employee or what ? There is mention of a shared room as part of the scholarship which the OP applied for and accepted. If the OP knew that going in, why should they be surprised the room would be shared? Am I missing something?

    1. Beezus*

      The OP is an employee. Her attendance at the conference was budgeted by her organization – they had money in the budget for registration, meals, and a single hotel room. On her own initiative and on her own time, she sought out a scholarship to cover the cost of attending the conference, to reduce the burden on her nonprofit employer. The scholarship was for registration, meals, and half a hotel room. She expected her employer to make up the difference in hotel rooms, since they had budgeted the entire expense already. It sounds like they rebudgeted all the funds instead.

      I’m not completely clear on whether the OP made clear upfront that she still needed/expected them to cover half the room cost before that happened, or if she said that the scholarship only covered half the room cost and thought it was implied that the org would be picking up the other half, and maybe her boss heard that it covered a shared room and assumed that meant she was OK with sharing the room. I don’t think it matters, though, if you value an employee enough to invest in their development by budgeting to send them to a conference, it doesn’t make sense to me to turn around and risk losing that employee over a $148 misunderstanding related to her success at saving them money on the same conference! I guess if their funding is that tight, the money may simply not be there, but if that is the case, they should at least be transparent about that.

      1. Not Sharing*

        Original poster here.
        The scholarship guidelines did not state whether the hotel room would be shared or private. It didn’t mention it at all, other than the scholarship paid for the hotel room.
        I am an employee of the nonprofit.

        1. Preston*

          I read the 3rd to last paragraph to mean you the LW knew the room would be shared. If you didn’t I would be upset with the scholarship people.
          But yeah your boss could be more understanding if that is the case. But if the scholarship said the rooms would be shared then I can understand the boss standing firm… granted it is kind of jerk thing to do. But try and think of the bright side, your roommate could be awesome.

  42. skyline*

    It’s common in my industry to share rooms. My publicly funded organization will only reimburse for half the conference room rate, but the travel is optional, the policy is stated up front, and we always have the option to just spring for the difference. When the travel has been required, they’ve covered the cost of the entire room.

    I regularly share rooms with 1-2 close friends at the optional conferences, which means 2 of us end up sharing a bed, but that’s by choice. I’m going to a conference this spring where I don’t know anyone, and I’ll just be covering the difference so I can have my ow private room.

  43. Not So NewReader*

    OP, I hope you are still reading. I would like to point out that when other people see how you are treated because you got a grant, then other people are going to be less willing to dig in and help the employer by finding grants for themselves. I mean, why would they?

    And maybe that is something you can ask the boss- why would people bother finding/applying for grants if this is what happens.

    I think he either spent the money on something else or he decided that he was going to be under budget this year and that would be a feather in his cap.

    I feel very strongly I want a private room. So I would consider paying the difference (worth it to me) and asking the boss to sign something to prove this was a business trip and I could deduct it off my taxes.
    And it would be the last time I found a grant for these people.

    1. Not Sharing*

      I’m still here and still reading.

      I really do appreciate all the advice. My boss isn’t generally an ass, and I truly do like my job and work environment. But this whole experience had me feeling undervalued and disrespected.

    2. Nellie*

      I like this last paragraph. I was half thinking the OP should just pay for the cost of a private room but not let the boss know to avoid the precedent-setting issue, but then him thinking this was okay *also* sets a bad precedent.

  44. Beezus*

    I would try one more time with the boss, and then if that didn’t work, I would prefer to pay the difference for a solo room myself and not comment on it at work, thus avoiding setting the precedent that I’ll cover my own travel expenses. Let them think I shared a room. Then I would make extra extra sure that I had separate accommodations at company cost before agreeing to any work travel in the future. I would cite that the situation made me uncomfortable and I did not want to repeat it – the discussions are awkward, and the idea of sharing intimate space with a stranger is uncomfortable, no need to clarify that I didn’t wind up actually sharing a room.

    Sharing rooms in my industry and my company is Not Done. My hotel reservations were goofed once, traveling as the lowest ranking person in a three-person group. I am not sure what happened, but we were short a room. My female boss and I traveled together and checked in, and they had us down for a shared room; that was definitely not what we planned or budgeted for. We clarified that we absolutely needed separate rooms, and they accommodated us. When the male manager traveling to the same event checked in hours later, they assumed he was sharing with one of us, and had issued him a key to my room before an offhand comment from the desk clerk caused him to question the room arrangement and discover that it was not booked singly anymore. He stopped everything there and insisted on a separate room.

    They had plenty of rooms available, so that wasn’t an issue. I think when they checked us in originally, they gave me his reservation, and when he showed up, they assumed we were sharing? We really dodged a bullet there – he had just started at the company, and I had barely met him, and it was my first business trip. I now know that he’s a fantastic manager and an impeccably professional guy, and we have a good working relationship, but I don’t think we’d have quite the same rapport if our first significant interaction was him waking me up by barging into my hotel room at midnight!

  45. Suz*

    This reminded me of a conference I went to when I was still in college. I knew I’d be sharing a room with two other female students but I didn’t realize we’d also be bunking with the female professor. I drew the short straw and had to share a bed with her. In the middle of the night, I had a dream about by then-boyfriend and I kissed her. On the lips! Ack! I was so embarrassed I slept on the floor the rest of the trip.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      I feel bad for laughing at this, because I’d have been mortified, but hey – maybe you made that whole department re-think their room sharing policy for future conferences ;)

  46. knitchic79*

    I went to a conference once with, oddly enough, my MIL. There were four of us to a room and MI knew one of the other ladies very well and obviously me. Lady two knew my MIL. Lady three knew none of us. I got to share a bed with a stranger. Guess who sleep whimpers and kicks like a crazy donkey in her sleep. This girl. That poor poor woman.

  47. Brandy*

    Ew, just ew. I used to be in academia and non profit government grant research (triple whammy!). So cheap we went to grocery stores and made sandwiches on business trips. We had a Per person allowed amount for hotels, and generally it was either stay somewhere dingy (but safe- like a Days Inn or hotwire dot com blind purchase) in a single room or pair up and stay somewhere nicer (like a Holiday inn).

    Now I am in software and people are too snobby to stay at the marriot. I am not one of those people!!!

  48. Mimmy*

    I wonder if the OP’s boss was upset that she/he got a scholarship to attend the conference rather than letting the employer pay since it was already budgeted.

    What an awkward situation though. With very little exception, I would vastly prefer to have a single room if I were to have to travel for a conference or some other professional purpose.

    OP – I hope you get this sorted out soon.

  49. Cheesehead*

    I am forever indebted to a former coworker of mine. It was during my second job out of college, so I was fairly young and was learning the ways of the corporate world. She was 15 or so years older than me and had been with the company for quite a while. When the topic of business travel came up, I was thinking “oh, cool! I’m a professional!” and didn’t think about logistics. So when we had to go somewhere and boss suggested us rooming together, I didn’t think twice about it; I thought it was just how things were done. But coworker, bless her heart, said a big UH-UH! to boss about sharing a room, and said that we would each get our own room. Her quote, which I still remember: “I’m not 14, and this isn’t a slumber party. I’m a professional. I WANT my own room.”

    Never had to worry about sharing a room again. :)

    And when the topic came up in a recent job, I used basically the same quote.

  50. Kathy*

    Ah – I worked in Silicon Valley (still do); but 20 years ago, for the large sales conferences, they made us double up in rooms. I am female with a female boss and my boss would always ask to share room with me. Well of course I was easy to share a room with. With her being manager, I had to turn the TV Off at 10:00pm and not go out with others as not to disturb her when I came back to the room later than 10:00pm. I basically did what she wanted.
    Well I got smart (or I least I thought I did). The next time a conference came up, I asked a co-worker top share a room with me before my boss could ask me to. Talk about karma; my new roommate snored like a trucker and I got no sleep for three nights. ARGGHH

  51. ILiveToServe*

    It is the norm in my career to share rooms at conferences (not beds) and in younger poorer days , 3 to a room with a roll in cot. (yikes) I always made sure there was a pool and health club and did my morning business there. That said, for the last 20 years, I have had the same “conference roommate” We are in different cities and that is when we get to see each other. My husband calls it the fishing trip as we yack it up while we are packing.

  52. Chiq*

    Hi OP

    Congrats on winning a scholarship.

    I would recommend asking the scholarship organisers whether a single room is available, and if not, whether they can advise who you are allocated to share a room with (if there is any likelihood you might know / be comfortable with that person). There are a couple of people in my industry who I get on really well with and it probably wouldn’t be so bad to share a room.

    I agree with not sharing with a stranger, firstly you need downtime at a conference when you can stop smiling, being professional, representing your company etc, and secondly all the safety issues others have mentioned.

    I would have phrased this a little differently with the boss when the scholarship first came through (although this is with the benefit of hindsight) given that the expense had already been approved: “Hi Boss, I have some great news, I have received partial funding as a result of a scholarship application I put together on the weekend. The conference will cover my meals, conference fee, and subsidies my accommodation which will save $x. I will coordinate the invoices for my transport, balance of the accommodation costs, and incidental expenses with Accounts Manager. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to learn more about teapot handles and will keep you informed on the information that comes out if this event.” Never give somebody an option if there is really only one outcome that is acceptable to you.

    Now that you are in this situation, I would personally be pretty firm with the boss. “Sharing with a stranger is not an option. I’ve been able to negotiate the accommodation expense down to $75. I am sure you can see the benefit to the company from me gaining this experience rather than passing up this opportunity.” Don’t get nervous – he did this cost/benefit calculation when he initially approved your funding and that was a much larger cost, but he still came out on your side then and probably will again.

    Good luck.

    1. Not Sharing*

      OP here. Thanks for the advice. Yes, the announcement speech you propose is of course much better, but…I didn’t realize at the time that winning the scholarship would result in this struggle!

      I will keep you all posted on how it turns out!

  53. 2horseygirls*

    Speaking as the only freshman at my (admittedly very small) college who had her own room (thanks, Mom & Dad, for covering the extra charge!), I *totally* get the not wanting to share a room factor.

    I deployed out with a national animal humane organization, and was told when I arrived that while most people shared a room, I would most likely have one to myself, as my roommate had emailed to say she wouldn’t be able to make it. So I got in the mindset of ‘Thank God, no roomie!”. I was a little peeved/surprised/annoyed when we returned to the hotel that night, and she was there! I will say, we had a great time, are still FB friends that connect several times a week, and I now have valuable contacts in the field on the other side of the country.

    I’m frequently accused of being naive and a little overly optimistic, but I would go into this with a positive attitude, with the option/ability to pay for your own hotel room if you get there and your roommate is a creeper in your back pocket. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, and you have all the angles covered.

    But I’m also one who buys my own office supplies because I want what I want, and I want it now. ;)

  54. Burlington*

    One thing to keep in mind with all this is that conference hotels fill up FAST. There is simply a finite number of single-bed rooms, and those are possibly more expensive than the double-room rate. The scholarship committee probably booked a room block within the conference rate for a certain set of double rooms. They may have a small number of singles set aside for people with legitimate medical issues that require accommodation, but “I don’t want to share” is probably a hard sell.

    I’m definitely in favor of people being able to opt-out of sharing arrangements, and paying the difference. But depending on how far away the conference is, it’s worth noting that there may not be another option (especially if the conference rate is ONLY for double-occupancy rooms).

  55. Elsie*

    Also, what’s ridiculous is the “networking” opportunities either benefit the organization and therefore should be a business expense for the organization, or the OP’s boss requires she pay for this herself because of a personal benefit, implying she can use this for future opportunities like, oh I don’t know, looking for a new job!

    One of the reasons OP’s boss is being unreasonable for all he knows she has survived some kind of assault or trauma, or at least danger perpetrated by a stranger, and therefore being in close quarters this could be a particularly difficult experience for her. Or something even less severe like claustrophobia or weird sleeping habits, as others have suggested. There are reasons people have separate work/personal lives and that doesn’t stop when employees travel.

  56. Not Sharing*

    Original Poster here. I had the follow up discussion with my boss today, and in short, I won the battle but I started a war.

    I entered the conversation, which happened unexpectedly this morning, armed with the poignant conversation points brought up here (thank you all!) He calmly stated his point of view, which is that the $74 for a private room was an unnecessary expense for the organization, and that myself and my colleagues could benefit from my sacrifice because we could enjoy other professional development opportunities in 2015.

    I acknowledged his position, and again reiterated that I believe that it was indeed a necessary expense, because it is unacceptable to me to share a room with a stranger. I stated a variety of reasons to support this stance, but most notably because I was approved to attend this conference at the full cost before I won the scholarship.

    He denied having stated to me that I was approved to attend a conference, thereby undermining my entire argument.

    The conversation continued, with each of us declaring more examples to support our positions. He ultimately acquiesced to the private room, but essentially said that this is the last conference I will attend on behalf of the organization.

    We avoided each other for the next several hours, until we had a one-on-one meeting after lunch, which was unrelated to this issue. But oddly, he spent our much of our 2.5 hours together telling me how valuable I am to the organization and how much he appreciates my work and my commitment, and that I deserve more recognition than he can provide.

    I’m not sure if he was apologizing for his behavior, or if he was mocking me. It seemed like the former. But it also seemed strange, given everything else.

    Thank you all again, for your good advice.

    1. AGirlCalledFriday*

      Thank you for the update! I’m sorry that what should have been a calm conversation turned into a drama-filled event for you. He probably didn’t like you questioning him, blew up about it, and then realized he didn’t want to lose you over it and tried to ‘make up’ a little without actually coming out and apologizing. I wouldn’t start job searching, but I’d definitely keep my eyes peeled to determine if there are other issues at this place, and if this behavior is indicative of a larger problem, start looking elsewhere. But if it’s just a one-off situation, it’s possible that it’s all water under the bridge and you’ll be going to other conferences – in a private room! – in the future.

  57. 2horseygirls*

    Thanks for the update, OP.

    Gotta say, if you are so valuable to the organization, I’d be likely to go with the assumption that he was saving face in front of you or others by not backing down. I’m willing to bet that by the time the next conference rolls around, he will have forgotten all about saying this particular one was the last one.

    Out of curiosity, if $74 is the private room, what is the cost of the shared room? Most conference registrations are at least $100, so it’s unlikely that by sharing a room once, you’re going to be able to even register for another one . . .

  58. Janelle*

    I could not fathom having to share a room with another person, a coworker who isn’t one I chose would even seem unacceptable. How unsafe and violating to expect me to conduct my most personal of activities, undressing, showering, etc. with someone next to me. The fact that this even happens is astonishing to me. I also must wonder if this hasn’t at some point led to assaults, theft or worse.

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