Residential Commons in Oxford

Eight SMU undergraduates and four faculty and staff members are exploring the birthplace of residential colleges: Oxford, England. With stops in London, Cambridge, and Bath, this group of residential leaders are searching to answer the question, “What is the culture of a true residential college system?” The students, faculty and staff hope to bring back ideas and traditions to enhance SMU’s new Residential Commons system.

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Creating a feeling of ‘home’ in the Commons

RCLCs at Brasenose

RCLCs at Brasenose

An update from Olivia, a sophomore majoring in finance and education, and a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps in Morrison McGinnis Commons:

The Brasenose dining hall

The Brasenose dining hall

As our trip to Oxford came to a close, we took one last trip through town to visit Brasenose College. Founded originally as simply lodging for students, Brasenose was smaller than many of the other colleges we saw throughout the trip, yet still boasted all the necessities for students, including a library, main quad, fellows garden, chapel and dining hall. The variation in size was interesting to see since the size of the Residential Commons community at SMU will vary slightly. Even though the grounds were not as large, Brasenose kept an academic and welcoming atmosphere consistent with the other colleges.

Looking back over all the colleges we have seen in both Oxford and Cambridge, I reflected on this atmosphere and the transition that takes place when you enter the college grounds from the street. When you pass through the walls of the college, there is a shift from the hustle of the street into the calm community of your college. Though each Commons at SMU will not include a stone entryway and quad, this change can still take place when walking through the doors of your Commons lobby. Upon arrival the goal would be to have each person feel a sense of home, physically represented by the crest on the walls, student pictures and leaders, the FIRs and RCD.

Thinking along these lines, my small group gathered together for our final meeting and saw exactly how our plans from our previous meetings, combined with our observations from the trip, could be implemented in the Commons. It was so exciting to see everything we had worked on coming together, and we all agreed we could not wait to return to SMU and get to work.

Our last night was spent aboard a dinner cruise on the river. We had a great time celebrating the end of the trip while catching a final glimpse of Oxford.

Aboard the dinner cruise

Aboard the dinner cruise

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