SMU homepage features Residential Commons

SMU website common connection campaignThe SMU homepage was updated last week to feature the common connections created via the Residential Commons.

The feature article proclaims “living on campus opens up a world of opportunity.” We agree.

The uncommon residential opportunity offered through SMU’s Residential Commons is a one-of-a-kind experience. We invite you to learn more from the linked resources related to roommate pairings, creating community, and strategies for becoming a great roommate.

We offer a special invitation to prospective residents and their families to review the multi-media elements including: videos featuring current students and our Faculty-in-Residence, interactive slideshow stories, and more.

After all, Residence Life & Student Housing fosters the foundational SMU experience where every student belongs, learns, and connects through their residential community. We hope you explore the ways our student-centered team works to make campus home.

Researcher Insights: Service and Surveys

Ryan Leibowitz is a senior, majoring in statistics and enrolled in the University Honors Program. Outside of academics, Ryan plays drums for the Mustang Band, and is a member of the SMU Service House. Ryan’s passion for community service has continued in his role on the Engage Dallas Research and Assessment Team.

Engage Dallas is a place-based community engagement initiative via SMU’s Residential Commons to address community needs focusing on south and west Dallas. The initiative is a long-term, university-wide commitment led by students to partner with local residents, organizations, and other leaders to positively impact the community. There is equal emphasis on campus and community impact stemming from the initiative.

According to Leibowtiz, the Engage Dallas Research and Assessment Team is currently working on two projects. He shares how these two projects have led him to connect his passions for service and data.

“One is designed to measure the impacts of community service on our undergraduate population, and the other is aimed at measuring the growth of the Engage Dallas Student Directors over the course of the year in their leadership roles,” Leibowitz said.    

Both projects will help inform stakeholders of the initiatives’ impact on students, both as participants and as student leaders.

“Right now, I am mostly involved in the design and implementation of survey instruments for both projects,” Leibowitz said. “I hope to also work in data analysis after we collect results from our surveys.” 

To collect the data, a pre, mid, and post survey are sent at particular milestones in the Engage Dallas program.

“Undergraduates who participate in Engage Dallas will fill out three quantitative surveys throughout the Canvas course,” Leibowitz said. “And Engage Dallas Student Directors will fill out three reflections and a final summative reflection over the course of the year, mostly collecting qualitative data.” 

In the planning stages of this research, the team looked at previous examples and projects put out by other universities and organizations to create a framework for the surveys.

“We started by determining what questions we wanted to answer about the impacts of Engage Dallas, which we narrowed down to our two main research focuses,” Leibowitz said. “After we had those questions, we looked at past implementations of community service programs at other universities to compose our surveys and develop strategies for conducting them at SMU.”

This framework has served as a cornerstone for the team as they continue to personalize the project to SMU’s goals and community.

“We are still working on developing meaningful questions to include in our Student Director reflections over the course of the year,” Leibowitz said. “Each of these reflections will be different in their focus depending on how much progress their Residential Commons students enrolled in Engage Dallas have made.” 

The data collection taking place this year will be used to fine-tune the Engage Dallas program before its larger rollout in Fall 2021.

“Looking to the future, this research will help us fine-tune Engage Dallas programs to create the best community service experiences for both students and Student Leaders,” Leibowitz said. “Hopefully, we will gain a better understanding of what students enjoy in terms of programming, education, and community partner organizations.”

In terms of the student learning experience within this research, Leibowitz says these projects have allowed him to utilize classroom skills and knowledge to produce tangible results that impact the SMU community.

“As a statistics major, I wanted to join the research team to gain experience in the data collection and analysis processes,” Leibowitz said. “I’ve also really enjoyed my time with this group because it’s allowed me to stay involved with community service, even if I can’t physically go out to volunteer this semester.”

Engage Dallas: Test Re-Test of Place-Based Community Engagement (SMU IRB: H20-129-GRAD) 

The overall purpose of this study is to determine the impact that a new place-based community engagement program has on undergraduate students at SMU. Engage Dallas, a new community engagement initiative that links undergraduate students at SMU with underprivileged communities in South and West Dallas, will be implemented beginning in Fall 2020 as an opportunity to fulfill the Community Engagement requirement of the University Curriculum. In order to measure the impact that this program has on participating students, a pre/mid/post-test survey will be designed and given to students. This instrument will be administered through Canvas, at the beginning of the student’s experience with Engage Dallas, after the student completes three engagements related to the course, and again at the conclusion of the student’s experience with Engage Dallas. An analysis of the completed surveys will allow us to determine the impact that Engage Dallas has on students’ attitudes toward community service and inform the larger higher education community.

Ryan can be contacted at rleibowitz@smu.edu. If you’d like to learn more about the Academic Initiatives Research Team, please email academicinitiatives@smu.edu.

 

By Laura Bell, Sarah Venables

Researcher Insights: From Findings to Task Forces

SMU Undergraduate Researcher Grant Stoehr is currently a member of the Academic Initiatives research team studying Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations. Grant is a sophomore studying Computer Engineering, with minors in Spanish and Mathematics. He also serves as a Resident Assistant in Ware Commons. Grant has been a part of the research team since September, 2019 when he joined the research team studying Impact of a Residential Commons Model on Students, Faculty, and Staff

The Impact of a Residential Commons Model on Students, Faculty, and Staff spanned a timeline of 8 months, which provided the opportunity for him to solve a variety of problems hindering the project’s progress. Examples include addressing a lack of data in certain areas or refining results and refocusing the research if there were too many pieces of information. 

The information brought forth by Stoehr’s research revealed what students think are the essentials of each Residential Commons faculty position. This data modified and guided the training of Faculty-in-Residences, Residential Community Directors, and Resident Assistants. The researchers who worked on this project are hopeful that the data discovered and sifted through during this project will later be used by other universities so that they can successfully move their universities over to a Residential Commons Model.

As a result, Stoehr’s research has positively impacted the SMU community. For example, the study Impact of a Residential Commons Model on Students, Faculty, and Staff led to the creation of a new task force that uses data gathered last year in order to fix problems that students, faculty, and staff saw within the university. In turn, Stoehr’s research and the resulting changes implemented on SMU’s campus can be shown to other universities conducting similar research.

The findings of this project were reported through a few different means. One avenue was a video that described the data and its meaning to Stoehr at SMU Research Days in May 2020. The video explained how the research can be used by SMU and other universities to build a concrete base that pleases everyone and helps to create the community that is sought after in a Residential Commons Model. 

Now, Stoehr’s research focuses on the Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations

“The purpose of the [Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations] project is to determine the themes of what is being residential college professional association conferences so that we can analyze the content and help to decipher if there is anything more that can or should be taught at these conferences to prepare professionals and Universities that use the Residential College model,” said Stoehr.

Through this new project, Stoehr is able to participate in research that will positively impact the way SMU runs the Residential Commons system, and have the opportunity to share the team’s findings with other universities as well. 

 “My role in the [Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations] is to help analyze the materials given to us by different conferences and to develop the methods section of our final report,” said Stoehr. “Data is being collected by hand by each of the student researchers from the conference materials that were obtained.” Materials for data collection included pamphlets and itineraries from the conferences since 2014.

The project is planned to conclude by winter break of this year, so that data can be finalized and potentially utilized as soon as next semester. 

Stoehr credits the research as an enriching part of his university experience and his understanding of SMU. 

“Benefits of undergraduate research are that you gain a deeper understanding of different research concepts, but you also begin to understand how the University runs, who it is comprised of, and how we are kept together,” Stoehr said. “It also helps you to understand how we are kept at the top of all universities in the United States.” 

Grant’s research has also given him experience that will be valuable for his future education plans.

“I wanted to join the research team because personally I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the inner workings of the University,” said Stoehr, “and because doing research now will help me prepare for research I would be doing if I try to get my masters or even my doctorate.” 

Want to learn more? Head to the RLSH research webpage to read more about our individual research projects.

 

Impact of a Residential Commons Model on Students, Faculty, and Staff (SMU IRB: H19-078-GRAD) 

With the significant human, fiscal, and physical investment of SMU in the Residential Commons model, the opportunity has presented itself to analyze the program’s effectiveness. This multifaceted needs assessment will produce two deliverables from focus group and survey data. First, an executive summary with a report of the needs assessment. The second deliverable will be a Residential Commons Research and Assessment Agenda. This agenda will outline the semesterly, annual, and long-term research and assessment efforts connected to the Residential Commons. Residence Life and Student Housing seeks to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment of the Residential Commons in order to understand current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the program in its sixth year. 

A Thematic Analysis of Conference Programs for Residential College Professional Associations 

With this study, team members will review past conference program materials for two leading residential college conferences, the Collegiate Way and the Residential College Society (RCS). This content analysis will reveal topics covered each year, and analyze repetition and importance of the material covered at each conference. This analysis will hopefully provide insight into common struggles of residential colleges nationwide.

 

Grant can be contacted at gstoehr@smu.edu. If you’d like to learn more about the Academic Initiatives Research Team, please email academicinitiatives@smu.edu.

 

By Sarah Venables, Laura Bell

History of SMU residential life published

Ariel image of SMU campus circa 1968
Ariel image of SMU campus circa 1968

Residence Life & Student Housing published a brief history of residential life on the Hilltop.

Nick Blair, the residential community director of Morrison-McGinnis Commons was one of the team members who compiled the historical documents to form the history. Blair said, “SMU has such a rich history that is so relevant to the lives and experiences on the Hilltop today. This project was a wonderful opportunity to connect our origin story to our vibrant residential communities we continue today.”

Historical documents chronicle that residential life was established in concert with the construction of Dallas Hall – the iconic academic building built in 1911. Therefore students lived on the Hilltop since the beginning of the university.

The entire historical recount is available on the Residence Life & Student Housing website.

Commons Offer COVID-Safe and Fun Activities for Residents

This semester, life in the Commons community has been thriving! With new events and creative additions to old traditions, students and faculty have prioritized safety – while also making sure everyone has fun on the Hilltop. 

Here’s a timeline of all the amazing Commons events that have been hosted, and how COVID guidelines were upheld – ensuring college can continue in a safe way. 

 

Kathy Crow Cookie Delivery

What better way is there to kick off the semester than with some cookies? A yearly tradition for the commons, Kathy Crow’s Cookie Delivery event took place on August 24, with RAs going door-to-door to deliver Tiff’s Treats cookies to their residents. RAs wore face coverings and maintained social distancing protocol while delivering the cookies.

And that’s not all! Beginning in August, student leaders in Kathy Crow provided many health- and safety-minded events for their residents. These events have included FiR Keith Robinson’s CROW series and a Fantasy Football league hosted by the Commons Council.

 “Of course – social distancing guidelines, pre-packaged food, masks, etc. are all used to make sure these programs are safe!” said Kathy Crow Residential Community Director (RCD), Macon Betts. “We also host Fun Fridays, where I hang out in the Quad, meet students, and give out snacks in a similar manner.”

 

MoMac at the Movies

MoMac continued their tradition of MoMac at the Movies, with the addition of some precautions against the spread of COVID-19. There were two dates and a different movie each night! Students could attend each movie virtually or in-person with socially-distanced seating. Unfortunately, food was not served. These changes allowed for the tradition to safely continue, and for students to have the best time possible.

Additionally, MoMac continues to provide many of their regular events. Sunday Night Snacks and Variety Hour are still be available for residents. New events include “yard game nights” and outdoor picnics. Other events are “fireside chats” and providing a coffee cart for residents.

 

MHPS Voting Registration Drive and Cookies

As a COVID-friendly take on MHPS Faculty-in-Residence’s (FiR) Sunday Night Snacks, the Commons hosted a Voting Registration Drive featuring the delicious, famous cookies from FiR Liljana Elverskog. The event changed locations between the building lobbies and the MHPS quad. 

“For Covid-19 precautions, all treats were individually wrapped for students to take, masks were required, and students could not remove their masks to eat while they were at the table with the treats,” MHPS RCD Nathan Faust said. “We moved the event outside so they could sit together, while socially distanced, to enjoy their treats and build community – the main goal of the event. The voter registration forms were available at the table in a folder as to not hand them out.”

 

Cockrell-McIntosh – Cockrell Eats, Treats, and Pop-up Speakers

Due to Covid programming restrictions, most of Cockrell’s programming this year has been virtual although some has been in person,” said Cockrell RCD Sarah Ballman.

Cockrell has adapted many of its traditions to be grab-and-go, with FiR Sandra Duhé packing Cockrell Eats meals in individual containers and passing out individually-wrapped treats to residents on Fridays. 

“One of the largest precautions that we have had to adjust to is that all food has to be pre-packaged and can only be to go,” Ballman said. “Sandy has done an amazing job of adapting many of her programs so that she is individually packaging meals or snacks and having students register for a time to come and pick up their items. In addition, Commons Council and RAs drop off program supplies at residents’ doors and then having everyone get onto a Zoom call for the program  – think Bob Ross painting over Zoom.”

RA Programming and Commons Council have put together virtual and socially-distanced events for residents. Activities include a Fantasy Football league, playing Among Us as a Commons, walking groups and yoga groups, Bob Ross painting events, and door dec parties. 

 

Boaz Commons

Boaz has been able to maintain many of their weekly traditions through social distancing and following university guidelines. These traditions include Sunday Night Snacks, Wake Up Wednesdays, S’Mores Night, Dessert Receptions, and conducting Commons Council. New additions for this year include a Legend of Kora watch party, a ping pong tournament, and a “mocktails with Madison” lawn hangout.

“We are working on a few more weekly programs,” Boaz RCD Madison Mucci-Ferris said. “The sand volleyball will return as a weekly program, two of our leadership members are going to host a Tuesday Evening weekly hangout, and we will have a Saturday morning meet-up. We also are in the works of bringing back one of our favorite community traditions – Korean BBQ night.”

 

Upcoming Commons Events

  • HUB: Commons Cup Gingerbread House decorating competition
    • Thursday, Nov. 12 6PM-8PM
  • Armstrong Commons: Home Is A Journey – Raising awareness about homelessness.
    • Saturday, Nov. 14 12PM-2PM

Stay tuned for highlights on more awesome Commons events happening in the future!

 

Jan Term & Spring 2021 Opening Date Information for Apartments

A letter from President Turner outlining a new start date for Jan Term and the Spring 2021 semester was sent to the SMU Community on October 14.  RLSH will be adjusting the apartment opening dates for Jan Term and Spring 2021 to align with the revised University calendar.  

To share important information about the adjustment to the opening dates for the apartments, the following information was shared with residents of Daniel House, Moore Hall, and Grad House on Wednesday, October 21: 

Students who live in Daniel House, Moore Hall or Grad House who register on the housing portal to stay in their apartment over Winter Break will have access to their unit during Jan Term.  If residents in the apartments plan to enroll in Jan Term, they need register to stay over break and note the dates they will be on campus.  The deadline to complete this process is November 8. 

  • Students who decide to enroll in Jan Term after the November 8 deadline will be able to request Jan Term housing, beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 5. In order to stay on campus for Jan Term, students will need to enroll for classes and complete a housing registration process. This registration process will be announced in November. 
  • Students who are not registered to stay over the winter break or for Jan Term will be able to return to the apartments beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 23 for the Spring 2021 semester. There will be a sign-up process for students to tell us when they plan to return to campus.  The sign-up process will be announced on a later date. 
  • Panhellenic and IFC recruitments are virtual this year, therefore students will not need to be on campus in order to participate.  RLSH is working closely with Fraternity and Sorority Life to ensure that members and potential new members will be fully able to participate in recruitment and still have plenty of time to return to campus on January 23 and 24 after the process is complete.  

Student and families are reminded that the University will continue to take precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, parents and guests will not be permitted in any residential community as outlined in the Residence Life and Student Housing policies.  We hope that by providing these new dates as quickly as possible, students and families will have ample time to make appropriate travel arrangements. For more details on Winter Break housing and Spring 2021 opening, please visit the 2020-2021 FAQs.  

Students who are graduating, transferring institutions or who are not planning to return to on-campus housing for the spring 2021 semester should contact RLSH at housing@smu.edu.  

Jan Term & Spring 2021 Opening Date Information for Residence Halls

A letter from President Turner outlining a new start date for Jan Term and the Spring 2021 semester was sent to the SMU Community on October 14.  RLSH will be adjusting the residence hall opening dates for Jan Term and Spring 2021 to align with the revised University calendar. 

To share important information about the adjustment to the opening dates for the residence halls, the following information was shared with residents of the residential commons, Smith Hall and Service House on Wednesday, October 21: 

  • Students who are enrolled in Jan Term will be able to return to the residence halls beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 5. In order to stay on campus for Jan Term, students will need to enroll in a Jan Term course and complete a housing registration process. The housing registration process will be announced in November. 
  • Students not enrolled in Jan Term will be able to return to the residence halls beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, January 23 for the Spring 2021 semester.  There will be a sign-up process for students to tell us when they plan to return to campus.  The sign-up process will be announced at a later date. 
  • Panhellenic and IFC recruitments are virtual this year, therefore students will not need to be on campus in order to participate.  We are working closely with Fraternity and Sorority Life to ensure that members and potential new members will be fully able to participate in recruitment and still have plenty of time to return to campus on January 23 and 24 after the process is complete.  

Students who would like to request an extension or winter break housing are reminded to complete and submit an application in the housing portal by November 8.  Students who are approved to stay over winter break can stay until the start of the Spring 2021 semester and they do not need to do any separate processes. 

Student and families are reminded that the University will continue to take precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, parents and guests will not be permitted in any residential community as outlined in the Residence Life and Student Housing policies.  We hope that by providing these new dates as quickly as possible, students and families will have ample time to make appropriate travel arrangements. For more details on Winter Break housing and Spring 2021 opening, please visit the 2020-2021 FAQs.  

Students who are graduating, transferring institutions or who are not planning to return to on-campus housing for the spring 2021 semester should contact RLSH at housing@smu.edu.  

Commons cooking: Good, campus-friendly recipes

Tired of heating up frozen meals on the weekend? Here’s some easy – and delicious – recipes from across the web – and contributions from SMU students! – that can easily be recreated in your commons!

Recipe
Egg recipe courtesy of Rowan Goble

1) Check out Buzzfeed

Really though! The only equipment you need for these recipes is a microwave, a mug, and a can-do spirit. The recipes here range from pasta – you can never go wrong with some mac’ n’ cheese – to healthier fare, like the “Broccoli Edamame Quinoa Bowl.”

Recipe
A vegan/Paleo chocolate recipe, courtesy of Rowan Goble.

2) Spoon University

Spoon University is a great resource (in case you didn’t know, check out the SMU chapter on insta @spoon_smu!) Whenever I need inspiration, I always go to Spoon University. They have a wide variety of recipes for any skill level and budget – which is even more helpful now that dining options are limited.

Recommended Recipes: 

      1. Microwave Spaghetti in a Mug 
      2. Literally any of these recipes

 

Recipe
Salmon recipe courtesy of Rowan Goble.

3) The old standby: Ramen

It’s a classic for a reason: affordable, easy to make, and delicious.  And, while it’s great on its own, sometimes you just need to change things up. Check out this article for ways to upgrade your microwave ramen!

Recipe
Cookie recipe courtesy of Rowan Goble.

4) Quesadillas and Nachos

This one is pretty straightforward – compile your quesadilla or nachos and microwave until the cheese is melted! 

 

Recipes courtesy of Rowan Goble, Ware Commons –

Egg Recipes PDF: 3 Egg Recipes

Vegan Chocolate PDF: Vegan Chocolate Recipe

Salmon PDF: Salmon Recipe

Cookie PDF: Cookie Recipe

 

Happy cooking!

Engage Dallas launches for SMU students

Engage Dallas launched for SMU students on October 9. SMU students are now able to enroll in the initiative and complete getting started tasks to prepare for direct service experiences.

Erica Zamora, director of the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement shared “we are grateful for the intentional work our student, faculty and staff implementation team for creating thoughtful and engaging content for students as they prepare for service in South and West Dallas.” Zamora mentioned the initial education and training sessions now available to students include an overview of the initiative, elements of personal reflection, and context building for service in Dallas.

Students wishing to enroll in the initiative can do so from the Engage Dallas website by following the getting started instructions.

A unique feature of Engage Dallas is SMU students are able to fulfill the Common Curriculum’s Community Engagement Proficiency and Experience requirement for graduation. Students can reach out to their Residential Commons’ Engage Dallas student director with questions or for assistance. 

Residence Life & Student Housing is a proud partner of the Engage Dallas initiative.

Registration to Stay in Your Apartment during Winter Break Now Available

For the Fall 2020 semester, course instruction will move online after the Thanksgiving holiday in the hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19. This change will alter many of our on-campus services; however, residents in Daniel House, Moore Hall, and Grad House will be able to remain in their apartments during this time providing they register to do so by November 8.  

To share important information about this process, the following information was shared with residents of Daniel House, Moore Hall, and Grad House on Thursday, September 24:  

In order for RLSH to have an accurate record of who will be staying on-campus during the break period (between November 25 through January 3), we are asking current residents in Daniel House, Moore Hall and Grad House to register for Winter Break Housing on the SMU Housing portal. The deadline to register for break housing is Monday, November 8 at 11:59 PM. 

 

A few notes regarding break housing: 

 

  • Break housing is only available for continuing students with a Spring 2021 room assignment who are enrolled in classes for the Spring 2021 semester.   
  • Students who withdraw or leave SMU are not eligible for break housing. 
  • All SMU policies, including the Code of Conduct and RLSH Community Standards are in effect and all students are expected to abide by all policies. 
  • No guests or visitors are permitted and residents are expected to follow all COVID-19 precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing measures. 
  • Dining Services will have limited offerings through December 14.  Meal plans are active through December 14, and will start again during spring semester. Students on meal plans will be responsible for their own meals after December 14.  Students without meal plans will continue to need to provide their own meals. The University will conduct cleaning and maintenance projects that may result in temporary inconvenience to residents such as interruptions in hot water, closures of community restrooms, carpet cleaning and the like.   
  • The Residence Life and Student Housing Office located in Boaz Residential Commons will be open during regular business hours, 8:30-5:00 Monday-Friday. 
  • Services on-campus will be limited, and offices will be closed from Thursday, November 26, 2020 through Friday, November 27, 2020 and from Wednesday, December 23, 2020 through Sunday, January 3, 2021. 

 

Please visit https://www.smu.edu/StudentAffairs/ResidenceLifeandStudentHousing/About/Alerts in order to have access to the most updated information.  Answers to most of your questions can be found on this website.  Thank you for your patience as we continue to determine the best ways to support our students as we all navigate the ever-changing landscape.