News and Announcements Residence Life Residential Commons

Building virtual communities

The Residential Commons (RCs) are doing what they do best: keeping communities together. While they are unable to meet in-person, Residential Community Directors (RCDs) and Commons leadership teams are utilizing technology – including communication servers, newsletters, and social media takeovers – in order to keep everyone engaged and involved in their communities.  


Armstrong Commons sends out a weekly newsletter filled with academic information, tips for mental health, and fun facts for their residents.


“In McElvaney Commons, our Leadership Team has come together to provide McResidents with multiple opportunities for engagement and interaction as well as resources for making it through this difficult time,” said McElvaney RCD Maya Reeves. “To date, the efforts have included newsletters centered around finding balance, creation of a McElvaney Discord server to enable further communication, and Instagram takeovers led by our student leaders.”


Commons are sharing mental health tips to help residents cope with the social distancing and quarantine measures taking place.



Newsletters have been an integral part in maintaining community connections for the Residential Commons. In addition to keeping students updated with important information, the newsletters have been revamped to incorporate fun interactive elements as well.  


“The biggest change we have made in our efforts to connect with residents virtually is through our weekly newsletter,” said Assistant UDH RCD Cody Dumas. “Instead of promoting upcoming events and programs, we have shifted to make our newsletter much more interactive. For example, we are sending out quizzes we find online and we are asking our residents to share their results. We plan to send out the Pottermore quiz so we can see where our UDH residents land in the Hogwarts Houses!”


Boaz FiR, the Sons, send out recipes for their residents to recreate at home and encourage them to post the results on Boaz social media sites.



Supplementing the newsletters are other online events – a popular option being Instagram takeovers.


“The Commons Council Exec members, plus some RAs, have been doing Instagram takeovers fairly frequently,” Virginia-Snider resident Ashley Gans said. 

Maintaining as much of a normal schedule is key, and many are accomplishing this by still holding their regular meetings. 


“We are still hosting commons council,” said Boaz RA Laura Bell, “Heidi and David are hosting “Sonday Night Chats” via Zoom, where they chat with students.”


Commons are also continuing their cooking clubs and traditions online, using social media to share recipes and results.



“Since we aren’t able to have Cockrell Eats and Cockrell Culinary Club, FIR Sandy [Duhe] is sharing emails every Sunday instead from previous Cockrell Eats,” Cockrell RCD Sarah Ballman said. “We will also be hosting a “who made Sandy’s Red Velvet Cupcakes Best” contest.” 


Residence Life and Student Housing (RLSH) also incorporated a new team of students in order to provide more outreach and community connections within SMU. 



“Led by Dustin Grabsch, Brittany Wright [RCD for MHPS Commons] and I, we are eager to jumpstart a small team of talented and excited SMU students to help bring our housing community together,” Ware RCD Maria Schoppa said. “This team will develop blog posts on the RLSH website, publish creative RLSH marketing pieces, and kickstart some creative social media accounts/campaigns for our stakeholders.”


The Street Team includes Isabel Costian (Boaz Commons), Grace Inthathirath (Armstrong Commons), Wren Lee (Ware Commons), Luke Tanner (Armstrong/Cockrell-McIntosh Commons), and Madi Tedrow (McElvaney Commons). 


Stay tuned in and stay connected with Residential Commons communities when we kick-off again in fall.


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