Mustang Corral turns 25 this year as the University turns 100, with a new schedule and new events designed to introduce incoming students to SMU, Dallas and each other. Not to worry, however, as favorite traditions like the Club Corral dance and candlelight closing ceremony remain part of Corral.
Redesigned to better fit the new Residential Commons model of student housing at SMU, Corral 2015 is an extended five-day University orientation for first-year and transfer students. It begins on move-in day, Wednesday, Aug. 19 and ends with the close of Opening Convocation on Sunday, Aug. 23.
Corral traditionally includes an off-campus trip to a retreat center where students have been divided into groups and sent to different locations for several days. But the new plan calls for just for one night away from campus, with students grouped with their new neighbors from the residential commons community to which they have been assigned to live. Each Residential Commons develops its own unique traditions, gatherings and activities that build community and long-term bonds among residents.
“As we are planning Mustang Corral 2015, we are all keeping in mind the time-honored components which are held most sacred to SMU students, faculty, staff and alums,” says Nicki Fletcher, one of four Corral student leaders responsible for planning Mustang Corral and director of a new Corral program called “Discover Dallas.”
“We are taking traditions that have not been changed for several years and looking at ways to strengthen them so that they may become even more special and relevant to the SMU community,” Fletcher says. “We also have added new activities to make Corral even better.”
“Discover Dallas” will give new students the opportunity Thursday, Aug. 20, to select one of 26 Dallas field trips, guided by SMU faculty members, who will take students to some of their favorite places in the city SMU calls home. Students can join faculty as they explore the Mexican-American culture and history of Dallas, tour the Holocaust Museum with a human rights professor, or visit the Bishop Arts District studio of an artist and SMU advertising professor. A music professor is taking students to the Dallas zoo and an education professor is taking students to the Dallas Arboretum. Other student choices will include kayaking White Rock Lake, touring AT&T Stadium, and visiting the Dallas Federal Reserve and the George W. Bush Presidential Center.
“We know part of the reason students choose SMU is because of the opportunities Dallas offers,” says Jomita Fleming, associate director for student transitions. “We want to help connect students with the city of Dallas from the very beginning.”
Mustang Corral also will include the Mustang cookout for students and families on Wednesday, Aug. 19, and the class photo and an introduction to campus activities at “Night at the Club” on Saturday, Aug. 22. Sunday, Aug. 23, begins with University worship in the morning, and the Common Reading discussions of Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, in the afternoon.
Mustang Corral ends and the official academic year begins Sunday evening with Rotunda Passage, a processional march through Dallas Hall’s Rotunda to Opening Convocation, the ceremonial gathering in McFarlin Auditorium where new first-year and transfer students are formally welcomed to SMU by faculty and administrators.