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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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!