Residence Life and Student Housing

The Residential Commons: Leading the Pack

By Tammy Winter

I’ll admit, when I joined the Residential Commons Leadership Corps last year in the hopes of getting to be involved in the creation and implementation of the Res Commons here at SMU, didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, a feeling that I’m sure was shared by everyone in the Corps. The Corps consisted of eleven distinct groups, one for each of the Commons with three students, a Residential Community a Director (RCD) and a Faculty-in-Residence (FIR) and we were basically tasked with the assignment of making the Commons come to life. Each team selected Commons colors, designed a crest, and decided on traditions in the hopes that their Commons would carry them into SMU’s second century proudly. And while it’s been an adjustment and has certainly come with a bit of a learning curve, it’s hard to see the a Commons as angry thing but a success.

The objective of the Residential Commons was to create a sense of community for all students at SMU, and as I look around daily at all of the activity in my own hall, Armstrong Commons, I know it’s done just that. Conventional wisdom tells us that throwing literature majors with engineers and athletes with artists might not be the best recipe for cohesion, but what I’ve seen in my own hall is that people are loving getting to interact with and learn from people who think just a little bit differently from the way they do. As an RA it’s my job to be a “friend-plus” to my residents, and help them get to know each other. My residents haven’t really needed my help, though. It’s not uncommon to for me to come outside of my room and see a group of my freshman boys planning a trip to one of their houses, or playing video games. Other times I’ve walked out and seen my sophomore girls giving advice to my freshman girls, about rush or homework, or anything and everything in between. This is how I know the Commons system is doing what it’s supposed to; I’m right in the middle of it.

To the casual observer the Residential Commons system might seem silly or perhaps too expansive to actually accomplish properly, but I see it differently. I see it as SMU making good on its promise to ensure that our campus is a space where you can connect with people you might have never gotten to interact with otherwise, a space where truly ever mustang is valued. And for that, I’m grateful.

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