Residential Commons Leadership Corps

The Residential Commons Leadership Corps (RCLC) is made up of students who are shaping and promoting the Residential Commons experience at SMU. The RCLC works with Faculty in Residence, Resident Community Directors and resident assistants to develop unique traditions for each commons that will foster community and long-term bonds among residents.

SMU Faculty in Residence also are blogging at http://blog.smu.edu/studentadventures/category/faculty-in-residence-smu-residential-commons/

Diversity

An update from Meaghan, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a second-year student triple majoring in Environmental Science with an Earth Science emphasis, Geology, and Chemistry, while triple minoring in Math, English, and Environmental Engineering:

It’s a pretty big buzzword on campus these days. But how does it relate to the Residential Commons? I’ve talked before about how the Residential Commons will bring diversity to students, but not a whole lot about what we, as a diverse population, can bring to SMU.

We as students come from all walks of life, with all different backgrounds, and we have the amazing opportunity to share our stories with our fellow residents. A Residential Commons is a mini-SMU, a small example of the wide range of diversity on this campus.

Imagine all of the programs that will be put on in the Residential Commons. We could have a “foods of the world” month, where residents bring in food that reflects their culture or food that they grew up learning how to make. Or a dance celebration that reflects the culture of our residents. We all have something to share in each of these instances, and each of these reflects one small part of who we are as students and as people.

We also have the amazing ability to actively change the culture on campus in the future. As we are exposed to all of this diversity, we have the opportunity to change Student Senate and the way our campus is run. We can vote on pieces of legislation that will change our campus for the better as we move forward collectively, toward a new future for SMU.

There has been disappointment this past year, expressed in many different ways in varying degrees, but I’m confident that the Residential Commons model will help us as students make this campus more inclusive. We have a wonderful opportunity in front of us, and I know we will make the most of it. World changers are shaped here … and the changes we can make to the SMU campus will just be the start of what we will do in the outside world.

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The Residential Commons Gets Crests!

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. 

It seems like every time I’m in poetry class I end up doodling. My mind is focused on the discussion of the poem, of course, but my creative side is so in tune that my hand can’t help but continue to put pencil on paper.

First, the outline. Then a middle crossbar-a sort of upside down V. Then our symbols. And finally, my commons’ name, “WARE,” in bold letters across the top. I’m drawing a rough version of our crest.

Each RCLC team has meticulously planned out, hand drawn and rewritten, and submitted their crest for approval by the Office of Public Affairs. And on Friday (finally) we got to see the results.

When Jeff Grim revealed a sheet with all of the crests on them, we could barely stay in our seats. We looked at the fruits of our labor and couldn’t help but smile at one another in satisfaction! The crests are special to each commons and are all unique and beautiful in their own way.

Even bigger than that, the actual crests being released means that this is happening. Residential Commons is coming sooner than we realize and all of our planning is becoming doing. It’s exciting and scary all at the same time.

And what’s funny is that my favorite part about doodling isn’t the creation — it’s flipping through the pages and re-discovering something you did months ago.

I sincerely hope that in 50 years I’ll be able to come back to SMU at Homecoming and look up at the crest of, for me, Ware Commons and say, “I helped create that.” It’s an incredible creative honor and an opportunity I will cherish for probably the rest of my life.

Here they are!!

Residential Commons Crests

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Meet Tammy Winter

An update from Andrew, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a first-year majoring in Anthropology and Human Rights:

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Tammy Winter (pictured above with SMU Ambassador Mehdi Hami) is going to be an RA in Armstrong Commons next year. I spoke with her about the excitement surrounding the Residential Commons, and asked her what we can expect to see in the residence halls next year. Here is what she had to say:

Q: What are you most looking forward to about the Residential Commons?
A: “I’m really excited about the sense of community that the Residential Commons is bringing to SMU. We’re integrating the classroom with the residence halls, and I think we’ll be better for it.”

Q: How do you think campus life will change as a result of the Residential Commons?
A: “I think what we’ll find is that we’ll have a more connected campus once the RC vision is fully implemented. The whole idea is that we want to give students another identity on top of being a Mustang. I definitely think students will be more engaged both with each other and with our awesome faculty.”

Q: As an RA, what kind of community would you like to see in your Commons?
A: “What I want more than anything is to help my future residents build connections that reach across individual majors, hobbies, hometowns, etc. I think the RAs already do a great job of that, but our switch to the Residential Commons is going to require that we get even more creative in connecting our residents because the individual halls will all be even more diverse than they previously were.”

Q: Is there anything you want your future residents to know about you?
A: “I was in an elevator with Troy Aikman once and didn’t faint. So there’s that.”

Speaking with Tammy confirmed that the opening of the Residential Commons will be a monumental event for SMU. We have a lot to look forward to in the coming months! I would like to thank Tammy for sharing her thoughts with me; she will make a great RA next year.

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Alternative Breaks: New Orleans Style

An update from Tien, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a second-year student majoring in advertising and public relations: 

Greetings, fellow friends! Although Spring Break is long gone, I wanted to take a second to share with y’all the magic of New Orleans.

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An item on my SMU bucket list has definitely been to attend an Alternative Breaks trip. I came into the experience expecting to do just service, but left the experience with a slew of inside jokes, friendly smiles, and a larger appreciation for the luxuries that I possess in my life. Our group was diverse, with an array of leadership positions, majors, and grades. I imagine the Commons system to be somewhat similar to this group of people.

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Our group spent a week working with the St. Bernard Project in New Orleans, Louisiana. Almost 9 years after Hurricane Katrina, many people are still struggling to rebuild their homes along with their lives. St. Bernard Project was started in order to help folks who were victims of contractor fraud, or lacked the funds necessary to rebuild their homes. SMU got the wonderful opportunity to spend a week working on Ms. Vera’s house. She was so sweet! She made our 5 am mornings worth it. Seeing her smiling face and her genuine happiness that somebody cared enough to help her rebuild her home was inspiring. We spent the majority of our time mudding, sanding, and putting up drywall. Luckily, by the end of April, Ms. Vera will finally be moved back into her home after 8 years of waiting.

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 No trip to New Orleans is complete without a trip through the French Market and Bourbon Street. Since we finished working by 1 everyday, the group decided to make the most of our time here. The culture and the people in New Orleans were so welcoming and friendly. The first place we stopped was Café Du Monde. It wasn’t our last time. Over the 6 days we were there, many of us couldn’t resist stopping in for a delicious snack. New Orleans truly has no other comparison. I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to the inhabitants. They deserved it.

Tien 5

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Spring Updates

An update from Andrew, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a first-year majoring in Anthropology and Human Rights:

Spring has sprung at SMU! With midterms out of the way, and less than two months remaining in the semester, its time to start thinking about housing for next year. Fall 2014 will mark a new era in Mustang history with the implementation of the Residential Commons.

To help with the transition, the RCLC held an expo in Hughes-Trigg recently. From 3 to 7 p.m., students came by to learn about each Commons and consider where they might want to live next year. Many wonderful Residential Commons Directors and Faculty-in-Residence members made appearances at the expo to promote their Commons. The RCLC members enjoyed displaying the informational posters they prepared for the occasion. The expo was an exciting affair, complete with Butter Beer and pretzel wands inspired by Harry Potter.

In case you missed the expo, here are some photos from the event:

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RC8 RC7 RC6 RC5 RC4

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A Residence Hall Association Update

An update from Meaghan, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a second-year student triple majoring in Environmental Science with an Earth Science emphasis, Geology, and Chemistry, while triple minoring in Math, English, and Environmental Engineering:

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Wow! What a weekend. What do you get when you take an NCC, an NRHH-CC, an RHA president, and an advisor and stick them in a car on the way to LSU for conference? A bunch of good ideas!

I’m so excited to talk a little bit about the conference we went to this past weekend and changes that may be coming up for RHA.

Without going into details, RHA will be restructured to match the new plan for the Residential Commons system. The method for casting votes in RHA will be altered and Commons council presidents will be given a more important role than ever before.

At No Frills this weekend, a conference that is entirely business and no “fun” for the SWACURH (South West Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls region). (If you remember a post from me in November I talked about SWACURH and how much fun it was), SMU was well represented by our NCC, RHA President, and NRHH-CC. At the conference we got to see different initiatives other schools were taking with their RHA, and have a lot more ideas for the coming year!

As newly elected NCC, I’m so excited for the changes that I’m going to help bring about. This is truly an amazing time to be at SMU. My first order of business is to lead a delegation to Wisconsin in May for NACURH, the national conference version of SWACURH. It will be a great opportunity to bring back information to strengthen the new Residential Commons system as we move into our RCs in the fall.

That’s it for now! Stay warm, my friends!

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Dinner Conversation

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. 

I type in the code and step into a warm room amongst the cold outside. The smell of tomato soup fills my nose. It’s lunch time at Delta Gamma. I get my plate and sit down at a table full of friends.

The best part isn’t the soup, though, or the grilled cheese, or even the nice place setting and the fine silverware. It’s that time after everyone is done eating, but still sitting down. We linger.

The conversations range from SMU basketball to politics to who had the cutest dress at formal. We laugh, discuss, and bond. I love learning more about new sisters, and I welcome the longer meal times into my daily schedule.

When the Residential Commons system has begun, people are going to be eating with their hall mates as well as their FIRs in either Arnold or Umph. Having meals together is one of the most cherished traditions at Oxford University, especially meals with professors.

Sharing a dinner with teachers allows us to learn about them and treat them as people, rather than police officers or grade makers. We can relate to them, discuss things, and bond. Just like my sisters and I do each day together at the table. I feel unequivocally comfortable at the DG house, and enjoy each conversation surrounding the cup of soup or sandwich I’m having. I can only hope that every incoming freshman, and each sophomore, will feel the same way eating with their fellow Residential Commons FIRs and friends.

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Diversity and The RC System

An update from Meaghan, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a second-year student triple majoring in Environmental Science with an Earth Science emphasis, Geology, and Chemistry, while triple minoring in Math, English, and Environmental Engineering:

Diversity. It’s a word we use a lot when talking about the Residential Commons system, but what does it really mean to the future of SMU?

There are a lot of ways a community can be diverse. Besides those more commonly referred to – race, ethnicity, major, hometown – there’s also talent, sexual identity, sexual orientation, music genre preference, favorite movie, favorite subject in school….well, you get the picture. Like many things at SMU, diversity isn’t just one thing or the other. Rather, it’s a whole spectrum of talents and interests and histories and cultures that vary all across the board.

Let’s talk about talent. By now I’ve waxed poetic about how wonderful my RC is, especially the current Fine Arts Community community, and how the community as a whole is a pristine model for what we know the RC system will become. But let’s for a moment focus in and talk about the greater SMU community (by talking about, you guessed it, my fabulous RC!).

JSpearJulian Spearman (affectionately known as JSpear) heads an organization on campus called TREAT that helps rising stars enter the world of showbiz by helping them get gigs and play shows on and off SMU’s campus. On February 6, TREAT had their first show, and the headliners were the FAC’s own The Happy Alright. At the event, many acts stepped up and showed their talent to the audience. There was spoken word, musical composition, even Irish-Step-dancing from yours truly! Such a wide range of diverse talent culminated with The Happy Alright and gave me one of my first glimpses into what else the RC system had to offer. After talking with Sterling Gavinski, the lead singer of The Happy Alright, I knew I had the perfect segue into a discussion on what diversity will look like in the new RCs.

So where am I going with all of this? Talent in the residential community is just another way diversity is represented at SMU. We as students are so much more than our majors and our years (where we’re from, where we’re living…the usual “getting to know you” questions we all hear at Mustang Corral). We’re our talent, our humor, our studying habits, even our social preferences! There’s so much diversity at SMU it’s nearly insane, and just one more plus of the Residential Commons system is that this diversity is going to increase tenfold. Musicians who are engineers will meet spoken word artists who are business majors. But the best thing is that we’re going to be exposed to all of this! We’ll all be able to experience the wide range of diversity that SMU has to offer, and that’s for sure one of the best things about this new system.

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Community Starts Here

An update from Tien, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a second-year student majoring in advertising and public relations: 

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To all of our active readers, thank you so much for joining us on our journey towards retiring the current residential system and bringing in Residential Commons. I know for some, this will be a tough change. For others, this is the change they have been waiting for. Nobody really knows how things are going to play out and which traditions are going to stick and which aren’t, but it’s important to remember that Residential Commons will only work if we all put effort towards making it a legacy. Let’s make this a tradition that SMU students, faculty, and alumnae are proud to identify with.

The RCLC members have been working hard to ensure the smooth implementation of Residential Commons next semester, but it’s up to us as Mustangs to be proud of what’s to come. Step away from what you’re comfortable with and embrace change. Pony Up Mustangs to the beginning of a bright and promising era.

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Myths vs. Reality in the New RC System

An update from Meaghan, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a second-year student triple majoring in Environmental Science with an Earth Science emphasis, Geology, and Chemistry, while triple minoring in Math, English, and Environmental Engineering:

Hey you! Yes, you! Do you have any questions about the RC System? Heard some things that you’re completely unsure if they’re true? Let me clear up some of the confusion with a quick myth vs reality post.

Myth #1: Those new buildings being built are “Sophomore housing.”
Reality: Nope. Those buildings are just five additional Residential Commons. There is no such thing as “Sophomore housing” on campus. In the RCs students of all grades will be mixed! Yay diversity!

Myth #2: Current freshmen won’t be able to pick their RC, just like incoming freshmen.
Reality: This is also false! There is planning in the works for a special event for the choosing of the RC. I can promise you, everyone on campus that is required to live on campus will have an opportunity to request their future RC.

Myth #3: Living in the same building as a professor is going to be super strange.
Reality: Living in the same building as a professor is super awesome. All of our chosen FiRs are down to Earth and have a lot of great ideas for interaction with students. Yes, they’re professors, but they’re also regular people, and they’re excited to share that with residents.

Myth #4: The new dining center (Arnold!!!) is only for people who live in the new buildings.
Reality: Anyone can eat in our fabulous new dining center! For more information on the new commons check out Tien’s blog post from last week! But it’s going to be good food for everyone.

Myth #5: I heard Mac’s Place is closing! That means it’s closing forever! Oh no!
Reality: False! Mac’s place is being renovated to be super special like all of our other dining facilities but it is not closing forever.

Myth #6: The new build is better to live in because it’s newer. And completely different from the other RCs.
Reality: All of the RCs will be similar in that they will have a crest, traditions, and colors. Additionally, every RC will have a Faculty in Residence, Peer Leaders, Classroom Access, Shared Bathrooms, and the like. They will differ in their traditions and identity alone, but all will create a sense of home for residents. No matter which RC you are in, you’re going to feel accepted in a community that is as diverse as the entire SMU campus.

I hope this alleviates some of your worries. Stay tuned for more information from your friendly RCLC bloggers!

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