Moody Madness

By Kathleen Batman

Men’s Basketball has never been a sport to draw a big crowd at SMU. However, within the last year the basketball games have become the place to be. With the renovation of our basketball arena, Moody Coliseum, and the hiring of Larry Brown as our head coach, basketball has become very popular. The atmosphere at Moody is absolutely incredible. I absolutely love going to games and supporting the team. SMU upset Memphis last weekend and the feeling in the student section was electric. It was amazing to see a ton of students in the crowd cheering loudly for the Mustangs! We have officially moved into the basketball era of SMU and I’m so glad to be a part of it! Pony Up!

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Real Talk: 21st Century Activism

blog1By Ashley Garner

I had the pleasure of attending the first “Real Talk” of the spring semester. The office of Student Activities and Multicultural Student Affairs hosts lunches that invite students and SMU staff to discuss challenging societal concerns.

Students are encouraged to discuss topics pertaining to the diversification of America using the Bantu discussion method. All students sit in a circle and speak one at a time to share their opinion on a topic. Their listening peers are not allowed to make comments until everyone has spoken. The purpose of this discussion method is to engage students in a culture of listening to understand not listening to attack the views of others.

Our first discussion topic was centered on the ways in which 21st century activism manifests and whether we still need activism. Student responses reflected that activism has taken a new from with the emergence of social media. Additionally, this means that we each take part in serving as activists whether in standing up for inequalities or otherwise.

The discussion was a perfect way to celebrate MLK day and kick off our “Real Talk” series for the semester. I look forward to attending more in the future!

To follow the discussion, check out highlights from their live tweets here:

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‘Tis the Season: Celebration of Lights

1397447_604490579613722_2052303589_oBy Liz Dubret

Today is my favorite SMU tradition: Celebration of Lights. It marks the beginning of the Holiday Season on campus. It is a time when SMU students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the Dallas community come together in celebration of the Holidays. Everyone bundles up, grabs a candle, and hot chocolate and waits for the festivities to begin. There are many different performances, lots of Christmas Carols, and finally President Turner reads everyone a Christmas story.  At the end, everyone’s breath is taken away as they turn on all of the Christmas lights on campus. It is truly a sparkling and magical moment.

So as I went to write this blog, I started to think back on my past two years of Celebration of Lights. My first year on campus, I went out with a few of my best friends and had a blast! We took pictures, accidentally dropped wax on each other, and spilled hot chocolate as we goofed around together. It was our final moment to snuggle in the cold before we locked ourselves in the library as we prepared for our first college finals. It was the perfect end to a wonderful semester.

Sophomore year, I went to Celebration of Lights with only my roommate. We had spent the entire day together, and wanted to end on a happy Christmas note before we went our separate ways for the holidays. Of course we met up with all of our friends there, but it was nice to spend it with my best friend as we stood there and remembered how lucky we were to attend such a wonderful university that had such great community and family.

This year, I am excited to see what I do for Celebration of Lights. I do not have any special plans, but know that as it is my second to last, it will definitely be a special time to remember. After all, nothing can go wrong during Christmas!

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Hunt Scholars Give Graffiti the Brush

By Carissa Laughlin

I have had the amazing privilege to be a part of the Hunt Leadership Scholarship program here at SMU. Ever since my first week of school freshman year, this program has provided me with amazing opportunities to grow and develop as a leader at SMU as well as in the greater Dallas community. Saturday November 9th, the Hunt Scholars participated in a community service day together. We all took a bus and spent the day painting over graffiti in Dallas for the City of Dallas’ “Give Graffiti the Brush” program. It was awesome to get to spend time with the other Hunt Scholars while at the same time giving back to the community!

pic(Pictured: SMU Tour Guides and Admission Ambassadors who are also Hunt Scholars)

The awesome thing is, community service projects are going on all of the time at SMU. Currently, the Relay for Life team is diligently planning the school wide event to fight cancer on Saturday April 5, 2014. There are organizations such as Mustang Heroes that pursue service projects to give back to the Dallas community every semester. And if you want to reach further than Dallas, there is a group on campus that plans Alternative Breaks to travel over Spring Break to different countries to create a global impact with other SMU students. When they say “World Changers Shaped Here,” they aren’t kidding. I’ve been enjoying my junior year thus far, and feel lucky every day to attend such a motivated, well-rounded, and forward-thinking university. Pony up!


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Class Spotlight: Negotiations

By Laura Spitler

One of my favorite classes I am taking this semester is Negotiations, taught by Steve Denson.  For me, it counts as a business elective to round out my marketing degree.  I initially signed up for the course, because I know that being good at negotiating is a very important skill to have in the business world.  I was also aware that a portion of the pay disparity between men and women comes from the fact that women are less likely to negotiate their starting salary and subsequent raises.  I especially like that the class format allows us to put into practice what we are learning without needing to fear for our grade if we don’t get it right the first time.  The majority of our grade comes from participating in our class negotiations, not quizzes and tests that you cram for and then forget a few months later.

We do negotiations in pairs, small groups, and as a whole class (we have a whopping class size of 17) as we learn how to negotiate everything from starting salary to real estate.  Professor Denson even brought in the people who sold the most expensive house in Dallas this year ($16.5M!) to teach our lesson on real estate.  Did I mention they are SMU graduates? –how cool is that!

Many people are scared to negotiate, but by doing so once or twice a week for this class, I am getting much more comfortable with it.  Two weeks ago, I was in Houston for a ballroom competition and when checking my team into the hotel, I put my negotiation skills to work.  That hotel charges $9 per car for parking and we had 9 cars; a negotiating novice would assume this charge is non-negotiable, but by befriending the young hotel desk staffers and appealing that we are college students on a budget who could potentially stay at their hotel again next year for this same competition, I was able to talk them down to only charging us for 2 cars, saving over $60.

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Life Around Dallas: The Tough Mudder

p1 By Cameron Skreden

This past weekend saw many SMU students get out of their comfort zones by entering and completing the Tough Mudder that was held here in Dallas. Encouraged by the APSM department (Applied Physiology and Sports Management) with reduced entrance fees and big involvement, many students ventured south of Dallas to attempt the nearly 12 mile obstacle course. I personally fielded a team which competed Saturday morning. My team of four had been preparing for this course for a couple of months at the time of the race and we were very excited to participate in Dallas’ Tough Mudder.

p2The course consisted of 11.5 miles of mud ridden obstacles based loosely off of British Special Ops training. Started off as a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, the concept is very cool: endure a fraction of what our troops’ training consists of. None of us had ever done something like this so we were very excited but definitely nervous. Being supported by many SMU student volunteers, we started our run enthusiastically. The course included 21 different obstacles that tested our mental grit and physical strength. For the next three hours, we enjoyed the camaraderie of one another as we crawled through mud and waded through the deep water.

One of my favorite moments of this grueling race was shortly after completing one of the most difficult obstacles during which I was greeted by SMU fans who recognized me and cheered me and my teammates on. At that point in the race, I truly did need the encouragement. However, this encouragement continued as saw many other friends, classmates and peers of mine. My team pushed through obstacle until we reached the satisfying end. For over 11 miles of work, we were rewarded with an official Tough Mudder headband and a beer.

This was one of my favorite experiences I have had during my senior year here at SMU. The amount of camaraderie and support that I felt from the SMU community was equally instrumental as they encourage us to push our limits. I was very happy to complete such a cool race that supports such an admirable cause.

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Family Weekend: Running the Show

By Will Slack

SMU’s administration is unique in that it places a tremendous amount of trust in student leaders. I experienced this aspect of our university firsthand while planning this year’s Family Weekend. Throughout the planning process, it was my job to oversee a 7-person subcommittee, meet with the school’s graphic designer to create the printed materials, allocate a large budget, brief SMU’s president about Family Weekend, and ensure a great weekend for all families. Family Weekend was a learning experience to say the least. I learned how to create timelines, set goals, and work with people different from myself (I’ve been able to discuss Family Weekend in all of my internship interviews).

All in all, Family Weekend is a highlight of my college experience. It served as a reminder of how much the university trusts me while inspiring me to keep giving back. SMU is a great environment for students who want to improve their leadership skills.

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There’s a lot of Heart in Hartshorne

By Liz Crowell

How I spent fall break of my junior year is not what people would typically imagine a college student doing.  This year I was privileged enough to travel to Hartshorne, Oklahoma with SMU Alternative Breaks and work to rebuild a home that the organization Rebuilding Together had sponsored.

Before I delve into my attempt of a lofty and deserving reflection of this trip I suppose I should first provide some background of Hartshorne and Rebuilding Together.  Hartshorne is a small town located just outside of McAlester, Oklahoma and 1,800 people call it home.  Around 26% of the population lives below the poverty line and is subject to the cyclical effects of such living conditions.  You can find vacant buildings lining downtown and four head start centers within the town limits.  Due to the poverty that Hartshorne faces, Rebuilding Together has become active in helping those living in unsound housing throughout the community.  Rebuilding Together is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the country that “provides critical repairs and renovations to low-income homeowners across the United States.”  In comparison to Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together works to repair homes that are in a dilapidated state rather than building homes from the beginning foundations.  In this small Oklahoman town, poverty knows no gender, race, or demographic.  It has plagued the town for years and yet, there is hope.  There is hope from the neighboring community of McAlester, hope in the eyes of Alan and Phillip of Rebuilding Together and while our group was there, hope that we made some kind of difference for at least a few people.  This trip may have only been four days, but oh what a 4-day alternative break it was.

After dropping off our bags at First United Methodist Church, our group immediately head off for the build site.  While we rocked down to Electric Ave. (thank you Hartshorne for that freeway exit and Eddy Grant for that classic) I began to wonder what exactly we would be doing to help these Hartshorne residents.  But once we unloaded the van and met Alan, who worked for Rebuilding Together I immediately realized we would be doing absolutely nothing that I expected.  Collectively we only had the construction experience of hanging a chandelier, and that experience was from our trip advisor Annie Bures.  However, Rebuilding Together did not hold that against us, and immediately entrusted us with the level of responsibility of a somewhat experienced person in construction.  While we were there we repaired two rooms that were in drastic need of some TLC.  To see a ‘room’ with no ceiling, no walls and a floor riddled with holes and be told that we were going to repair it, is incomparable.  The first order of business was to remove the rotten particle flooring and patch up the gaping holes.  Not as easy as it sounds, but with a little help from a crowbar and a circle saw we were able to finish the flooring in one day.  I could explain every detail of what we did and how we did it but I believe a list would suffice.  With 11 people and 209 labor hours we were able to drywall, joint tape, and mud two rooms; we also built a floor and ceiling, insulated, and wired and installed sockets. All in all, we created a master bedroom and front room for an ever-deserving couple.

By the time Tuesday afternoon rolled around, 15 people were able to stand in a room that had previously been a challenge to navigate safely.  I cannot put into words the feeling of not only accomplishment but of gratitude and appreciation I had as we circled up to say our goodbyes to the homeowners and Rebuilding Together.  That insurmountable feeling of knowing that where you stood four days before was a hole leading to the ground will be ingrained in my memory forever.  After this break, I come back knowing more about what man is capable of doing than ever before.  To witness the emotional, physical and spiritual strength of the homeowners as well as the alternative break program gives me hope in the future.  This notion particularly resonated with me as I watched Vicki and Rick display a resilient attitude and high-spirited outlook on life, especially in the face of their situation.  I have come back from this trip with new knowledge about home repair, life and the humanity in helping one another.  As John Wooden said, “you can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you”; and this year, I had four perfect days of fall break thanks to SMU Alternative Breaks.

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Dancing in the Fall

a1By Shauna Davis

I think I speak for the whole student body when I say that we are excited to have passed the halfway mark in the semester.  Sure, late nights of cramming for midterms are over, but for Meadows Dance majors, our biggest production is right around the corner.   This semester’s Fall Dance Concert opens next week and we are excited about the four new works (two of them world premiers) that we will have the chance to perform.

What I love about SMU is the all the opportunities it provides.  I was lucky enough to have been selected for Antony Tudor’s 1937 ballet, Dark Elegies. Because performance is live and subject to change at any moment, much of dance is passed down through an oral tradition.  So, in order to restage Dark Elegies, 80 year-old Donald Mahler, the senior stager of Tudor’s works traveled from New York to be with us here at SMU.  To be able to learn from someone who worked closely a2with an icon in the world of dance, even though his moves aren’t as spiffy as they were fifty years ago, is really extraordinary.  I get chills thinking about it!  He stayed with us for two weeks teaching us the choreography, learning our names(both wrong and right), and showing us his love of dance and it’s ability to send universal messages that touch us all.  He will be back to make the final touches on the piece this week and I am very excited.

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Homecoming Happiness

photoBy Melody Davis

Homecoming: another reminder that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves- an entire community at SMU and not just our four years spent here. Homecoming last weekend was again one of the best weekends of the fall semester. All the hype and excitement of the Homecoming festivities came true. But as I walked in the Homecoming parade, behind our organization’s float, I was reminded that the support and spirit for SMU stretched beyond many college students. As we passed out candy to many children dressed in red and blue Mustang gear and saw old couples sitting along the boulevard as we passed, it was special to see the community come together to support our wonderful university. So many alumni on campus were able to join in our fun festivities. It was incredible to see the blocks of Hillcrest street and the boulevard teeming with fans cheering for SMU. Regardless of age, SMU is a special place for all, even after graduation. Although I can’t imagine leaving this place any time soon, or in the next two years once I finish my undergraduate experience, I know I’ll always have a place at SMU.

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