An update from Jamie, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a second-year student majoring in accounting in the Cox School of Business. Jamie observed the residential commons model in Oxford first-hand.
I’m not bragging here, but I have over 1,000 Facebook friends. In fact, I’m almost to 2,000.
That’s a lot of people.
Pew Research reports that 94% of teen social media users have a Facebook profile. That’s more than 7 million kids. And even though other social media sites are growing, 81% of those surveyed said that Facebook is still the profile they use most often. The reason? Because they have the most connections. But, do I really have 1,992 friends?
In the ’90s, anthropologist Robin Dunbar famously created what he called “Dunbar’s number,” 150. One hundred and fifty is the number of people that one human can comfortably maintain a stable relationship with. No more. Between the average brain size and the average social group size, that number is the sweet spot for “friends.” Not 1,992.
Bummer, for me I guess.
Only 150? Are we talking personal relationships? Like face-to-face? Can I really meet that many people in person at SMU? And get to know them all? How?
Well, we want students at SMU to begin to find that 150 inside their Residential Commons. The goals we hope to accomplish through this new system are incredibly real and personal. And I believe we will achieve them, because as much as I love my Twitter followers, there are some things that can’t be attained through social media. For example…
1. Each Commons Will Be a Home Base for Students
The main FB page is called “Home” but, if you ask me, it definitely doesn’t feel like a home. In fact, I definitely would not actually let a lot of my Facebook friends physically into my home…
But the community created in Residential Commons will be personal, and will help students connect to the University throughout their time in college. We, the RCLC team and the administration, really hope that each student will feel safe and at home in their commons.
2. Create a Community through a Common Experience and Identity
Everyone on my Facebook kind of only has one thing in common: we have Facebook.
Each Commons is going to be unique, with its own crest, and traditions. Students are going to play a role in their community, and be able to bond with others over living in the same building and sharing common experiences.
3. Learning Happens Everywhere
I read a lot of tweets. Probably more than I should. But I wouldn’t call that learning.
Faculty in Residences and Staff affiliates are going to help create an academic environment that is conducive to learning in and out of the classroom. We are at SMU to learn, after all. Students will have the opportunity to learn, as well as teach others through the experiences in their residential setting. It would be pretty cool if some students started to consider their faculty as friends, too.
4. Residential Commons will Nurture Student Development
I’ve definitely changed a lot and in pictures since the first time I posted a photo to Facebook. Hey, I got my braces off. But who cares. I also didn’t gain any leadership skills. Being an Admin to a group does not count.
Collaboration between everyone in each commons will provide initiatives and student leadership opportunities that will help students in their growth throughout their collegiate experience. Leadership and real world experience is really vital to the college world and beyond.
College is a unique time in each of our lives. You will never be so constantly surrounded by your peers. We need to take this time to make real friends. Make real connections. Not fake friends. It’s time to gain real skills. Not just likes on a profile picture. Honestly, we may be millennial, but I believe we are ready for more personal relationships and more nurturing environments. Actually, I’m sick of scrolling through Facebook and not recognizing people. This is our chance!