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/

Pasta and Passion

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.

Last week, I attended one of the events in Shuttles Hall (where I live) called “Ramen with Ramon.” Attendance wasn’t fabulous, but for the first time since I’ve been living there, I took initiative and learned the names of some hall-mates while in the lobby. Our student body president, Ramon Trespalacios, talked about how to get involved, how to promote school spirit, and about his personal life and accomplishments.

I came to visit SMU in April of last year with my friend Tommy and, being too scared to go to different Peruna Pal groups, we decided we both would go to mine. The second we met our Peruna Pal leader, Ramon, we knew we had one of the funniest and happiest leaders there and were glad we chose his group. Once we got to sit down with him on the Dallas Hall lawn, we learned more honest and helpful information about SMU than we had on the tour or even at the admission sessions. He was knowledgeable about everything at SMU and in Dallas, and it was clear that the love and spirit he felt for his school was very real. Plus, later on in the night, while we were sitting on the steps of Dallas Hall, it seemed like every person who walked by knew him. (That’s not an exaggeration; I swear literally everyone at this schools knows him. It’s incredible and also kind of scary.)

Ramon Trespalacios, SMU Student Body President

At the Shuttles event, Ramon talked about people who had mentored him, activities he had enjoyed, and plans he had for the future. It was interesting to hear about his life, but more than anything, the passion with which he talked about everything in his life here reminded me of that night on the Dallas Hall lawn. Ramon, to put it simply, is passionate about SMU. Not just excited, or a part of, or intrigued by, but passionate about everything that is happening and is going to happen on this campus.

With Residential Commons right around the corner, I took back a few lessons from this little event in the Shuttles lobby.

1. We all (specifically the RCLC) need to be as passionate about Residential Commons as Ramon is about life! We need to ooze spirit and enthusiasm for this project.

2. Events can actually make an impact. (This was the first one I attended and I am super glad I went.) In 2014, the RAs and RCLCs need to be planning programs for each commons that will help bring students out of their rooms.

3. I really don’t like Ramen noodles.

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My Life as Baby RLSH

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

Since becoming a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps, I have been dubbed “Baby RLSH” by many of my friends (RLSH is pronounced like “relish” and is an acronym that stands for Residence Life and Student Housing). The patch on our shirts has become a conversation starter on more than one occasion, and I wear it with pride.

On Wednesday, we welcomed 18 new members to the Residential Commons Leadership Corps, and they have since been placed in their Residential Commons, completing the triangle of RCLC, RCD (Residential Community Director), and FiR (Faculty in Residence) that will work together to make each RC the best it can be. We are such a diverse group of people, and have grown even more diverse, that I’m so excited to see what each RCTeam will come up with. Each RC will truly be unique and offer a different experience than all the other RCs.

As I geared up to come back to SMU after Fall Break in sunny, hot San Antonio, I found myself engaging in conversation with four new SMU students at the airport and on the plane. Three of the students were first years, and I couldn’t help striking up a conversation about the new Residential Commons system. Overall, I’m glad to report that they were excited to see what next year would bring, and after I explained that the RCs would be not just a place to sleep, but a community that would feel like a family, where everyone would learn from each other, the three students seemed excited.

My friends who call me Baby RLSH joke with me that my position is practically a job, and I correct them to explain that, at its core, it is a job. But it never really feels like work to me. I’m so passionate about the RC system that it has started to feel like my baby, and it makes me want to spread the word and show everyone, “Look! Here’s my baby. I’m working to help it grow and I can’t wait to see what it will become.” In 30 years, I will be so excited to come back to campus and see what these RCs have become. And I hope to be sporting some RC Pride as I do it.

All I can say is that I hope everyone on campus is getting excited to welcome this change to SMU, because it is going to be the best one yet. We, as members of the RCTeams, have a great opportunity to be the change we want to see on campus, and I have full faith that we are all going to transform this campus into the best it can be.

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6 Reasons Residential Commons Are Going to be a Blast

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

***Disclaimer: All of these photos were taken during our trip to Oxford during summer 2013. SMU does not look like this in any way.***

A lot of you have probably found yourselves going through this blog because you are intrigued at what exactly a residential commons will consist of. Have no fear, for I, the bearer of information, bring you pictures of Oxford and ideas that will be implemented in SMU’s very own Residential Commons!

#1

Oxford University is actually made up of 38 independent colleges. University College, Christ Church College (where they pulled inspiration for the Great Dining Hall in Harry Potter), and Trinity College are some of the most well known. Although each student may attend a different college, they will all graduate with a degree from Oxford.

This is where SMU has found inspiration! Instead of having different colleges, though, SMU will have different commons. Each commons will have its own unique crest, mascot, and personality. I hope that we will be able to achieve a sense of a “home away from home” when students step foot onto their new Residential Commons.

#2

Each commons will have its own identity that students will be able to create and evolve on their own. We are building traditions that could either stick for generations to come, or be washed out by a bigger and better idea. WHO KNOWS!?!? The point is that we are all coming together to support and be proud of the same thing: our commons.

Above is a picture of a women’s rowing team crest at a college in Oxford. There was a yearly race within the college, and the winner got to chalk their crest on the walls of the main courtyard for everyone to see.

#3

This isn’t exactly what the commons will look like, but can we take a second to enjoy the beautiful architecture throughout Oxford? How awesome would it be to have a gate full of busts of SMU’s past Presidents?! The best we’ve got is a cupola, but I can live with that. (Shout out to my RC Armstrong! Whoot! Whoot!)

One of the things I loved most about Oxford was the amount of history behind each and every object. At any moment in time, I could look down and imagine the different types of people who had stood at the exact spot I was standing. Old things really are beautiful. I definitely learned the importance of taking the time to stop and appreciate the little things. You truly don’t see this kind of detail in schools in America today.

#4

BANGERS & MASH?! WHAT ARE BANGERS AND MASH?! Ladies and gentleman, on my plate, I present to you a delectable English meal of sausages and mashed potatoes with peas. One night, the group decided to explore Oxford and we ended up at this restaurant called “The Big Bang.” It had various types of sausages ranging from apple and pork to wild boar (which was actually not so bad)! Also, it had a sand volleyball court out front which was pretty rad!

I’m not guaranteeing that there will be delicious and beautifully plated food come Fall 2014, but I can promise that SMU is working very hard to give only the best and quality meals to its students. I hear that a healthier and more green cafeteria is in the works! Also, I just had to share this picture to share the fact that when the group sat down to eat, not a single word was spoken the entire meal because we were all so enthralled in our food.

#5

Don’t deny that a little part (or a big part) of you has ALWAYS wanted to attend Hogwarts. While the Residential Commons system won’t come with nifty wands and magic tricks, it will come with the unique opportunity for everyone to be in the Commons that is best for them. Ultimately, this whole experience is what you make of it. Just think of how cool it’s going to be to earn points for your Commons and to be named the top Commons of the year!

This picture was taken at New College in Oxford where some scenes from Harry Potter were filmed. It was super awesome being able to walk down the same corridors that Harry, Ron, and Hermoine walked down. This tree in particular is super cool ’cause this is where they shot a scene in Harry Potter (the one where Malfoy gets attacked, I think). Doesn’t it look like there’s some magic in the air?

#6

What you should be most excited about, though, are all the really awesome people you’re going to meet through Residential Commons. Our trip to Oxford this summer was only a microcosm of what’s to come. From long, intense talks about racism to passionate discussions about what we want to make Residential Commons, I realized that I was sitting among some of the most intelligent, friendly, and creative people I had ever met. If it weren’t for Residential Commons, I would have never met them. We want to give SMU a completely new experience that will not only challenge you academically, but will also help you grow as a person. I truly believe that this is the best investment SMU has ever made.

Above is a group picture of everyone who went on the Oxford trip. It was a great experience being able to get to know one of the future FiRs and the administration that is behind all of this. I’ve come to understand the importance of having a strong student-teacher relationship. I’ve also grown closer to the friends I had before this trip, and made new friendships that I will have the rest of my life. Shout out to Jamie, my roomie!

If you’re still not convinced that the Residential Commons is going to be awesome, or still have some questions, don’t be afraid to ask! All of us are here to help you guys better transition into this huge change. We even selected a few more people to add to our team! All in all, I am beyond excited to finally see the Residential Commons coming to life. I can’t wait to see where this change will take SMU, and all of the different relationships that will come out of it. Pony up!

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RCLC: My Take

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

Life with the Residential Commons Leadership Corps is sometimes hectic, sometimes crazy busy, but always rewarding. One of my favorite parts about being an RCLC member is the opportunity to connect to students living in my community right now. I spend most of my free time in Mary Hay and Peyton, getting to know the current residents, meeting with my FiR during his open apartment hours, and just getting a sense of the students I’m representing.

I’m going to take this blog post to brag about my Residential Commons, and try to give a sense of what we as a Residential Commons Leadership Team are working toward.

So, the Residential Halls currently (I hesitate to use Residential Commons in this situation because I don’t want to confuse Mary Hay and Peyton as they are currently with Mary Hay/Peyton/Shuttles as they will be next year) have programs at the beginning of the year to teach alcohol and drug awareness. These programs are usually a party and meant to be both fun and educational.

Mary Hay and Peyton, for their party, had a Greek Gods theme that ran with their over-all theme of Greek Gods and Goddesses for the community. My last blog post had a picture I took of myself. The shirt I was wearing was the Fine Arts Community shirt for the year (and totally awesome), because of course I have to represent my Residential Commons.

MBlog1The party was a huge success, and as you can tell from the pictures accompanying this post we had a lot of fun. The goal is always to build community, even when talking about something not so fun, like alcohol awareness. I was able to meet more of the current residents, talk to the RAs about fun events that were coming up, and even learn a thing or two myself.

MBlog3As I was standing on the sidelines chatting with Scott, one of the RAs in Mary Hay, I was excited to see everyone not only participating in the toga aspect of the toga party, but also chatting and getting to know each other better. Simple themed parties like that one are great ways to get the residents involved and meeting each other.

I also have to commend my RC on a great program funded by EPIC. I have never seen the Lion King on or off Broadway and up until now Wicked has always been my favorite musical. Now, I can’t say that the Lion King has surpassed Wicked in my book (I may be a bit biased after I saw Wicked in London this summer) but it is most certainly a close second.

MBlog 2First of all, how amazing is my RC that it took 150 people to go see the Lion King on a Thursday night?! Very amazing, that’s how amazing. There are also pictures of the night that I took with my good friend Heather, who is a current resident of Mary Hay and a junior. From the bus ride to the musical to the musical itself to the bus ride back there was never a dull moment. The bus rides were full of excited chatter and singing (the latter after the musical) and I’m sure I could hear a few people meeting each other for the first time. The most amazing part was the chance to get to know people better, and to be able to see other people getting to know each other better. Each new bond formed was another tally in the success column for the event, as far as I’m concerned, and I’m so proud of the entire Mary Hay/Peyton community, most importantly the RAs and the wonderful RCD Ty who helped put the whole program together.

So, to sum it all up, the goal is to bring everyone together, hopefully teach everyone a thing or two, and solidify the ties that bind the community together. I could not be prouder of my community as it is currently, and cannot wait to see what we can come up with together for the coming year.

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The Future of Friendship

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!

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A Day in the Life of an RCLC member

An update from Tien, a member of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and a second-year student majoring in Advertising and Public Relations. Tien shares a day of her life in the Residential Commons.

TB 1

RISE AND SHINE!!! It’s Test Day!

TB 2

Having breakfast with some last-minute study time

TB 3

Walking through this Meadows maze to get to class

TB 4

Creativity is over! Using my downtime to look ahead to events in October.

TB FoodTruck

IS IT FOOD TRUCK TUESDAY!?!?

TB 5

Skipped out on lunch at Umph today for some delicious Crawfish Etoufee!

TB 6

Enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery on my way to bio lab!

TB 7

 We are looking at bacteria samples from last week.

TB 8 Lab is over and it’s time to head to the Diversity Committee weekly meeting. 8 hours have elapsed since I’ve awakened, but there’s still more to get done!

TB 9

It’s 3:30 pm. COFFEE PICK ME UP TIME!!!!!!!!!

TB 10

Representing the Asian American population at the weekly Student Senate meeting (you can now check out our meetings via live stream!).

TB 11

ONE MEETING LEFT!! I have been going for 12 LONG hours, but there’s still more to be done!

TB 12

Meeting with the Vietnamese Student Association to plan our upcoming event: Pho Night!

TB 13

Homework’s finished, dinner’s been eaten, and 17 hours later, IT’S FINALLY BED TIME!

 

 

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The RCLC and Me

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.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Meaghan

Meaghan enthusiastically supports her community wearing hear Mary Hay Commons T-Shirt

For a first year coming to a new school, leaving home for the first time without knowing anyone at school, a new school can be terrifying. For me, the first few months were no different.

My roommate last year already had her niche when she came to SMU, fitting in with her friend-group from high school. I, however, didn’t have that base. Like many other first-years, I had to seek-out a home for myself, the place where my passions would intersect with those of others to create a place where I felt – finally – at home. Luckily, I found the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives fairly quickly and was able to settle into that family. But for others, it can be difficult to find the place where you fit in, where you’re accepted and appreciated, and I know had it not been for the friends I made within my residence hall and in the Women’s Center I would have been lost those two months.

What truly made me want to join the Residential Commons Leadership Corps and assist in the creation of the Residential Commons Tradition was an unfortunate confrontation between another resident in my hall last year and myself. This student told me on two separate occasions that I did not belong at SMU and that I should transfer, just because I did not fit into their idea of what a woman at SMU should do/say/look like. While this moment did affect me, it drove me to want better for incoming students. I was able to go to my home in the Women’s Center and find strength to make a difference, and that is why I joined the RCLC. My motto is that if I can change the residential experience for one student, and save them from experiencing what I went through, then I have done my job. If I have created a niche where students are accepted and appreciated for who they are as an individual, and valued for each way they differ from the rest of the community, then I have succeeded.

I am one of the Residential Commons Leadership Corps Representative for the new trio that is Mary Hay/Peyton/Shuttles and I have already begun to settle into my home there. I’ve been bonding with the current residents and RAs of Mary Hay and Peyton to get a sense of the residential community and things that current students would like to see implemented next year. I’ve had an amazing time getting to know everyone in these communities, and have been lucky to have won an OTM for my work with my Residential Commons in August. Ty, the current RCD for Mary Hay and Peyton nominated me for an Of The Month (OTM), which is a competition within the residential communities, and I was fortunate to win on the campus and regional levels. Working with my RC has been such a rewarding experience, and I am so lucky to be working with talented and hard working and passionate people.

The RCLC is not only a leadership role, it is a community building role. It is a way for me to build a community within my Residential Commons Leadership Team and in my Residential Commons itself. In the RCLC we are a family, and to quote Lilo and Stitch, “Family means no one is left behind. Or forgotten”

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Oxford Recap: Sherlock Holmes Style

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.

When I got on the 7-hour flight to London, I had no idea what to expect. I’d never been on a trip where the entire purpose was to observe your surroundings and learn from other people. (Actually, I’ve never been abroad before, either.) Vacations are all about relaxation or sightseeing. Study abroad is for actual classes and internships. Some trips are to visit old friends, or to make new ones. This trip was merely for comparison and social research. And the scariest part was that it didn’t stop when we took the flight home— we’d have to apply what we learned throughout the year.

I picked out a few books for the trip — James Bond and Her Majesty, and Sherlock Holmes compilation of short stories. They’re both based in England, so I thought it might be fun to read them while I was abroad. When I was about 5 stories into the Holmes book, I came across this dialogue that became my inspiration for the entire trip.

Holmes: “Quite so,” he answered, lighting a cigarette, and throwing himself down into an armchair. “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.”
Watson: “Frequently.”
Holmes: “How often?”
Watson: “Well, some hundreds of times.”
Holmes: “Then how many are there?”
Watson: “How many? I don’t know.”
Holmes: “Quite so! You have not observed. And yet you have seen. That is just my point. Now, I know that there are seventeen steps, because I have both seen and observed.”

And so I set my goal to not just see things, but to experience them.

Once we arrived in London, we ate and stayed in for the night. (Jetlag is tough!) I was prepared for a long day of walking and tourist sightings during the next day. We saw it all: the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye.

I got a few chances to explore on my own, which was scary, but exhilarating. I bought a ticket to see SpamALot that night at half price, and hopped on the tube (subway) to get home and change. I made the mistake of putting my camera in the mesh pocket with my map, and mysteriously when I got off the tube they were both gone. Pick-pocketed?? (I couldn’t believe it.) I guess that was my first real experience. After a good cry session and some rallying, I got dressed for the play and went out to dinner by myself.

When I sat down at the Playhouse Theatre, cider in hand, I noticed someone in the row in front of me wearing SMU kroakies. I thought I was hallucinating. In London? (What are the chances.) Do I say something? (I probably should.) (*Build up my courage to talk to him*) Turns out he was an incoming freshman at SMU, from Austin, TX, visiting England with his family. (Talk about another experience!) After such a long and lonely day, I really ended up taking the message of SpamALot to heart — to always try to laugh, play, and look on the bright side of life — because just when you think you’re having a bad day, something happens that totally turns it around and makes you smile! (more…)

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