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

Rumor Has It

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. 

As a girl, a teenager, and a human, I have fallen subject to being the believer and the spreader of rumors. Gossip. False information. Exaggerated facts. Myths. We have all encountered these at some point in our lives.

I am beginning to think that a huge part of my job as an RCLC member is to debunk rumors about the Residential Commons and spread the truth. And I think that for anyone reading this blog post or any informed student, this is your job, too. Because in the past three weeks alone here at school, I have overheard some pretty bogus conversations about what’s happening to SMU’s campus.

What are people saying?
Oh, you name it. Some people think that Residential Commons is sophomore housing, some think the new buildings are apartments, some think that it’s just more freshman residence halls. I even heard one girl say she “heard” there would be a full-time police officer living in each building. (All of these assumptions are false.)

How is this happening?
Well, for the most part, people believe what they hear. They trust what comes out of others’ mouths and don’t stop to check the facts with a reputable source (like the SMU website, or feel free to contact Jeff Grim, Assistant Director of Residence Life for Academic Initiatives, at or 214-768-0598).

Where is this happening?
On a bench, at a table in Umph, before class with the kid next to you, during sorority recruitment, at the nail salon, and amongst pillow talk between roommates. Everywhere. It’s happening everywhere. The rumors are being spread in whispers and conversations and discussions in hard-to-reach places.

What can I do to stop it? What can YOU do to stop it?
Let’s start small. By having similar conversations at Umph and on a bench that will reinforce the right information. Stopping a discussion when you hear something incorrect, and politely stating the real information.

Talking to your own roommate. Presenting information on the Residential Commons to groups on campus. Telling all your friends to tell all of their friends the accurate and exciting news about everything that is happening at SMU.

When I was in elementary school, we used to play a game called telephone. Everyone would sit in a circle and the first person would whisper something into the ear of their neighbor, and so on, until it got to the last person in the circle. It never failed that, when we checked, the ending statement was nothing like the beginning domino.

When it comes to Residential Commons at SMU, the news we have to share up front is way too important and awesome to get tangled up in the rumor mill. So let’s not play telephone anymore. Let’s make a point of spreading more accurate, fair, and truthful information so that everyone can get equally excited about Residential Commons. Deal?

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Arnold Dining Commons Update

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

If you’re anything like me, food is a really huge part of your life. From discovering new restaurants to exploring different ways to spice up old recipes, there is never a moment that delicious, quality food is not involved in my life. A couple weeks ago, some people from dining services gave the Residential Commons Leadership Corps a preview into what the new Arnold Dining Commons would be like.


The new dining commons will be based around the idea of “Fresh Food on Campus.” Students will have the opportunity to not only eat indoors, but also outdoors in designated court yards. The Arnold Commons will have multiple types of seating to cater to any size group you are eating with. They will have areas that are suitable for large groups as well as more intimate seating areas for one on one meetings.

AC 2

The Arnold Dining Commons will provide an assortment of food ranging from pizzas fresh out of the brick oven to omelets and stir fry made on the Mongolian grill. No matter what your dietary needs or favorite foods are, the Arnold Dining Commons is guaranteed to have something for everyone.

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Recipe for low-stress finals

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:

Welcome back from Thanksgiving break! I know I needed the rest before the stress of finals, and I’m sure most of you did too. As we near the night before finals, I wanted to offer a bit of advice for how to maximize studying time while also not driving yourself insane.

My life gets pretty crazy, especially toward the end of the year. I’m a triple major in sciences and a triple minor, not to mention a recent inductee to the NRHH (National Residence Hall Honorary), an RCLC representative for Mary Hay/Peyton/Shuttles, the current secretary for SPECTRUM, an E-Rep for Virginia-Snider, the E-Rep liaison for Environmental Society, and I sing in the Highland Park United Methodist Church choir every Wednesday and Sunday. That’s a lot, I know, and it’s been an interesting job, working to fit everything in while also maintaining my GPA. But with some creative scheduling I’ve figured out a good recipe for low-stress that I hope may help for finals.

First of all, it’s important to remember to work hard and play hard. Focusing entirely on your studies and not allowing your brain to relax and process isn’t always the best solution. While I recognize this works for some people, I’ve found it good to take a break every once in a while from studying. Watch an episode of your favorite TV show, or read a chapter of a non-school related book. Go out for dinner with friends or go see a movie. Do something fun for yourself that will lessen stress and keep you smiling.

Next, I find it’s better to stretch your studying over multiple days. For more difficult courses, cramming the night before won’t do you as much good as studying over multiple days will. For example, when I study for organic chemistry I study a chapter or two a day, going over practice problems as I go so that I’m familiar with the material. Also, I start from the beginning of the semester and work my way to the newer information. This way, you go over the material you might have forgotten first and finish with the newer information that you, hopefully, still remember and understand.

I’m not a fan of all-nighters, but if one is necessary I suggest you plan to get a few hours of sleep before any tests the next day. Take a few power naps as you study to give your brain a break, and make sure you don’t get dehydrated from all of the coffee. Stand up and get the blood flowing every hour or so, and do some squats or other exercises to keep your brain awake.

Finally, give yourself a pat on the back as you go along. Positivity is the best way to go about studying for finals. Maintain a good attitude, a can-do attitude, because if you go into studying telling yourself you don’t know anything then you’re less likely to absorb information. But if you are positive you will be more receptive to pertinent information.

So, don’t stress, take a deep breath, and remember: you can do this. Good luck on finals and have a wonderful winter break. Happy Holidays from the RCLC and we will see you next semester.

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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:

FAC professional SWACURH 2013

Fine Arts Community Representatives

What is SWACURH you ask? Well, besides a collection of fun letters, SWACURH stands for the South West Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls. On Thursday, November 14, SMU sent eight delegates and two advisers to Texas Tech University for the 2013 conference. The purpose of this conference was to learn about different programs that can be brought back to the Residence Hall Association on SMU’s campus to further engage students.

The most exciting thing about this conference was that our delegates were able to discuss the new residential commons model with other schools and bring back ideas to implement to strengthen the community. It was amazing to see how much school spirit all of the other schools had. SMU brought as much spirit as we could muster, and I’m proud to say our small delegation held our own against the larger delegations.

While we learned so much and had a great time, the best part of the conference was Saturday night, when we learned SMU’s Fine Arts Community (FAC) won Community of the Year. I sat in on the Boardroom where the bids for Community of the Year were discussed, and SMU was up against some stiff competition. I’m so proud of my residence community, SMU’s NCC (National Communications Coordinator) Heather Solov, and the FAC’s residence community director Ty Krueger for all of their hard work and commitment to SMU and their community. Nothing makes me more proud as a member of the MH-P-S (Mary-Hay/Peyton/Shuttles) RCTeam than to have seen the positive feedback from the other voting members in the boardroom.

The FAC members of the delegation crowded together for a picture, and then showed off our funny sides. If there’s one thing I know about my RC, it’s that we know how to work hard and play harder.

SWACURH 2013 funny delegation

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Does it all add up?

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. 

As an Accounting major, it’s accurate to say that I am a budgeter. Classifying transactions and deciding what to do with cash are what I am planning to do for the majority of the rest of my life. (Eeeek, that’s a long time.) I’m sure that to many people it’s weird and uncommon and nerdy, but financial accountability and discovering how purchasing and selling affect people’s lives truly interest me. But accounting is hardly my only passion.

As can be seen through my involvement and previous blog posts, there’s also Residential Commons. I believe wholeheartedly in the RC model, and trust that it is going to change the SMU campus in a positive way. (I even traveled “across the pond” to do research about it!) The team I belong to, the Residential Commons Leadership Corps, along with SMU’s RLSH, have been working diligently to make RC a success, and I honestly cannot wait for that 2014 move-in date.

But combining my two passions? I never really thought about it before.

The Question:

Until, on a cold Tuesday night, that’s exactly what Katelyn Hall asked me to do when she interviewed me for her Journalism class about the costs of living at SMU for a second year. She wanted to know if living in the Residential Commons, on campus, was truly worth it.

So I went to my desk. Pulled out a notebook, calculator and pen. Sat down and got to work. (I wish there was a way to say that without sounding nerdy, but there’s not.)

Homework Assignment #1: Eating at Restaurants

A lot of my friends live in the sorority houses and have a meal plan at their unique house, but it doesn’t include late-night snacking or any weekend meals. Compared to last year when we all lived in the residence halls, it seems like they go out to dinner at least three times more! So, I figured there must be a formula for how many times kids eat at restaurants, a difference equation for the activity between freshman and sophomore year, and even on to senior year, or maybe some way to track restaurant traffic.

But there wasn’t. There was simply no way to calculate exactly how often people eat out when they live off campus vs. on. I was stumped. (This is the point in your homework when you decide to “skip this one and come back to it.”) Moving on …

Homework Assignment #2: Meal Plan vs. Groceries

This is the ultimate duel. (And I thought this problem would be way easier than the first.) Unfortunately, after some research and some inquiry, I realized that the variables in this equation were far too complex to account for. Some kids living off campus are barely getting by on Ramen and peanut butter in order to save money, while others are only buying the freshest organic salmon and kale from Central Market. The answers I got to the question “How much money per month do you spend on groceries?” ranged from $100-$900. The difference between answers could be as much as $750, and the standard deviation was $274! Multiplied by however many months you stay here … it still brings up hugely scattered results.

Finally, I had come up with some answers to this one, but not any I am completely satisfied with, or that definitively declare a true winner. So …

Homework Assignment #3: Apartment vs. Residence Hall

This is another good debate. I live in Shuttles, so I figured I would use it as the control in comparison to off-campus options. For my double, it costs me $9,350 for the whole year according to the RLSH 2013-14 rates. Meaning that monthly, it costs me approximately $950, assuming I stay here for close to 10 months of the year.

To live in a double at the BLVD apartments costs $1,410-$2,165 a month, split between two people, that’s $705-$1,082 each month.

To live in a double at the Standard (on University Blvd.) the monthly rate is $2,202; split between two roommates: $1,101 per month.

To live in Hillcrest Manor, a University-owned apartment building is much more affordable. Living there, each roommate pays about $500 monthly.

To live at the Vista, in Victory Park, each partner in a double room pays more than $1,200 a month.

Still, after all these calculations, I am not left with an overwhelming answer. Some apartments cost more, and some cost less. And much like the grocery equation, I can’t really accommodate for all of the variables and come up with an accurate solution. It depends…

The Solution:

Frustrated (and still feeling like a nerd for doing math that wasn’t even a homework assignment), I went back to what Katelyn had originally asked: “Is living on campus for a second year worth it?” And I came to the conclusion that no accountant can truly answer this question.

Worth it.

How could I ever begin to dissect the worth of an experience? Sure, assets have worth, but do relationships? Does learning? Do memories? It is impossible to calculate the true worth of all of these things, and yet, they all have value.

When it comes down to it, the numbers fade away when we begin to evaluate all of the amazing things the new Residential Commons and second-year on-campus living requirements are going to bring to SMU.

Every university that continually ranks in the top 50 has at least a two-year living obligation, and for good reason. Studies show that living on campus increases GPAs, decreases behavioral problems, and fosters a stronger sense of belonging and community.

The Residential Commons is going to give students the opportunity to meet classmates from other backgrounds, majors, races, religions, etc. and, in turn, grow and learn from each other. This new approach to residential life is going to foster new friendships, create new ways of learning, and truly make SMU a better place. And while I, the Accounting major, can’t show you the numbers to prove it, I unequivocally believe that Residential Commons is going to be, oh so, worth it.

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Residential Commons: FiR Engagement

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:

Earlier this semester I talked about the pyramid that is formed from the RCLC, RCD (Residential Community Director), and FiRs (Faculty in Residence) working together. This week, I want to talk about the FiRs and the many great things they are already doing on campus, with a spotlight on, you guessed it, Mary Hay/Peyton/Shuttles!

The FiRs are engaging students already, and Dr. Robert Krout, the FiR in Mary Hay/Peyton/Shuttles, has tasked the RAs in the Fine Arts Community (FAC) to do one program with their floor and the FiR each semester.

On Saturday, November 2, 2013, I went on a trip along with 20 other residents in the FAC to the Perot Museum as an outing with the FiR. When talking to Dr. K, he told me the purpose of the adventure was to get residents out in Dallas and to show them how easy it is to get around and to use DART. The program was an overwhelming success, and I was so excited to be able to meet with more of the residents in my RC and to talk with them about the changes that are happening on campus. The students are all very excited about the changes, and especially enjoy having a FiR in their RC.

Dr. K has “munch and mingle” times on Tuesdays when residents come to his apartment and have conversations. I’ve gone in and had a conversation with two residents and the FiR and the next week will be amazed by how full the room is both with sound and with people. The residents are all responding so positively to engagement with the FiR that I’m excited to see how all of the RCs become engaged next year.

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The Residential Commons Elephant in the Room: Freshman Room Assignment

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. 

“Typically, we become most conscious of privileges when they just start to get taken away from us.” –Dr. Owen Lynch, Associate Professor in Meadows School of the Arts and Director of the Communication Studies Honors Program, during the “Battling Bias” Student Senate Diversity Committee discussion on November 5, 2013.

As students at SMU, we have privileges. A privilege is an advantage, right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed by a particular group of people. Some of them include the ability to get good grades, the chance to learn in the classroom, the socioeconomic status to afford school, for some the opportunity to live away from home, and the freedom to express ourselves. While we all share these common privileges, we also differ among many boundaries. Some are lucky enough to be from extremely economically well-off families, some experience male or female privileges, some feel they have an advantage due to their religious affiliation, and some believe they benefit from their ethnicity/race. We would notice if these were suddenly taken away from us. (Imagine suddenly you were the opposite gender, changed to a different race, or became part of a different socioeconomic group. It would be pretty huge.)

The 2013 SMU Student Senate “Battling Bias” series addressed the issue of “privilege” in these broad categories during their discussion this past Tuesday. Panelists challenged attendees to look at mock situations and see how privilege existed, how it could translate or happen at SMU, and what we could do about it. Specifically, they posed the question “How can one person use their privilege to help out another person?” Many offered solutions as well as posed questions to the administrators.

To be honest, Tuesday evening I walked in not knowing what to expect. I am not a member of Student Senate, not a part of any diversity club, and haven’t been to a town hall discussion since the first semester of my freshman year. I knew three of the panelists, but I looked around the crowd waiting to go into Mack Ballroom and saw no one I knew. (This was a little disheartening.) Then I saw Greg Hopkins, a First Year Senator with whom I competed in the “World Changers Shaped Here” challenge at the second home football game. (Finally, a friend! Yay!) We struck up a conversation.

But when I passed through the doors, I was handed a number that told me my assigned table. What!? I wanted to sit with Greg, my only friend! Random tables? Really? (As if I didn’t feel uncomfortable enough already.) Before I walked in, I felt I had the privilege to sit where I wanted to sit. With whomever I wanted to be next to. With someone similar to me. Someone I knew. I thought I had the right to be in control. But I didn’t. And that took me by surprise.

Unlike the privileges that control our existence as people — the ones talked about in the discussion, i.e. gender, race, religion, socioeconomic status, or ability to learn — we assume we have little privileges each and every day subconsciously. And the second I sat down at Table 12, I realized how guilty we all are of it. Some examples include…

  • Because I need to get places, I reserve the right to have a car on campus.
  • And since I pay for a parking pass, I shouldn’t get ticketed.
  • Because I am in a hurry, I have the right to skip the line.
  • I still pay tuition, and really want to live in an apartment, so I should have immunity to the second year on campus requirement.
  • Since I have to stay on campus, I should have the privilege to choose what building I live in.
  • I studied for the test; therefore an A+ should be the reward.
  • My parents pay a lot of money for me to go here; therefore I shouldn’t have to put up with community bathrooms.
  • Because I am [White, Black, Asian, Greek, an engineer, a fine arts student] I have the privilege to live with students similar to me.
  • Since I showed up to this Bias talk, I should be able to choose where I sit.

I hear these sayings every day. And while a few are justified, I think SMU would be a more content campus if we just stopped assuming we have so many privileges. If these presumed “little” privileges were to be taken away from us, not much in our world would change. In fact, things might even get better. Here’s where Residential Commons comes in.

In 10 short months, freshmen will walk onto campus with fewer privileges than we had when we came here. I don’t mean to say they will be underprivileged by any means (that word has negative connotations), but their housing will be equally dispersed, just like I was randomly assigned to Table 12 on Tuesday. And while they might think they deserve the privilege to choose, they don’t. That is the reality. In life, we can’t always choose our coworkers, our fellow tenants, our bosses, or our family. So why live in a residence hall with students exactly like you? (That would get boring.) There is so much more room to learn and appreciate when people are thrust into a situation with peers dissimilar to them. And though it might seem scary, everything I’ve experienced and learned from thus far in my college career leads me to believe this mixing pot is going to add more meaning to the on campus [freshman] experience.

By 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, I felt glad they split up everyone at the discussion, especially because I got to make a few new friends. I sat with peers who had different privileges in life than I do — different views, different majors, different skin colors, religions, etc. What mattered is that we all showed up to the table, ready to listen rather than speak, passionately willing to break through our comfort zones in the hopes of making SMU a better place.

“Let go of all of those fears we have about getting to know other people on this campus…don’t limit yourself just because you think that’s what safe. I mean, a lot of people in this room I never would’ve met if I hadn’t shown up to things I didn’t think I would go to.” –Tien Dang, a sophomore student majoring in advertising and PR, and panelist at the Battling Bias Student Senate Diversity Committee discussion on November 5, 2013.

Senate Diversity Committee and Panelists

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World Changers Shaped Here

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

TB Worldchange1Sometimes on the Hilltop, we forget that there is a whole other world going on at the same time. People wake up, brush their teeth, go to work/school/back to bed, eat, and do it all over again. When SMU kicked off its “World Changers Shaped Here” campaign, I started to wonder what exactly qualified someone as a “World Changer.” In my opinion, a “World Changer” is someone who does what they can to better the world every day. It doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant. One small gesture can really go a long way. Some of the biggest companies today started off as silly ideas. As Residential Commons kicks off, I believe that there will be an increase in small gestures that will propel SMU and its students toward being “World Changers.”

TB Worldchange2Residential Commons will allow more people to collaborate with each other. For example, one of our very own FiRS, Beth Wheaton, combined her love of economics and helping others into a career focused on helping others. She is the founder and CEO of Equip the Saints, a nonprofit consultancy that works to strengthen nonprofit organizations worldwide and to equip world changers to fulfill their personal missions. FiR Wheaton is a “World Changer” who can provide serious advice for other students who want to collaborate with others and make the world a better place. SMU is a breeding ground for BIG ideas.

TB worldchange3Simply put, SMU is the golden place to be in the following years. We are retiring an old residential system and bringing in a new experience that will be the start of so many new traditions and ideas! Imagine all of the energy and dialogue that will be buzzing once RC kicks into place! Are you a “World Changer?” What are some of your “World Changers” ideas? Feel free to share them in this post!

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Homecoming with new RCLCs

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:

As a first year I’m sad to say I didn’t get involved in Homecoming that much. The only event I participated in was the painting of Peruna; I’m proud to say the SPECTRUM Peruna took third place last year, so I suppose if you’re going to do one thing at least do it to the best of your ability.

M and perunaThis year, however, I had so much to work for and to look forward to. My wonderful RC painted a beautiful Peruna (there’s a picture of me standing with it because it is gorgeous and how could I resist?), as did two of the organizations I’m secretary of: Environmental Society and SPECTRUM. Both of those organizations also painted a banner, so at the start of Homecoming week I’d painted three Perunas and two banners.

The real fun doesn’t start until the Friday before the Homecoming game, in my opinion. Pigskin, a time-honored tradition at SMU, was filled with so much talent this year the stage couldn’t contain it all. The band, along with all of the acts, did an amazing job, and I’m so glad I was able to go and be a part of this 80-year-long tradition.

The day of the Homecoming game, the RCLC had a tent on the Boulevard in which we shared our excitement with everyone who was out and about. We handed out some information, a few color-changing cups (which are exceedingly awesome), and spread some RC-love to the campus. I’m also proud to report that this event was the first major event for our new RCLC members, and they were all so very amazing. I found myself stepping back to let them step up, and they surly made me proud to be an RCLC veteran. Jeff Grim and I had a short conversation about them, and with a smile he called them “Baby Baby RLSH” and announced his pride also.

M and pals on blvdAfter putting the tent away, it was time for some fun with friends. I ventured over to the Theta Tau tent, where many of my engineer friends were sitting and conversing, some dressed in their costumes from the parade. The Theta Tau theme was “Where’s Waldo?” and they all shone brightly as they marched around in their costumes. I couldn’t resist taking a picture with all of my “enginerds,” as I affectionately call them.

The Homecoming Game was a nail-biter in the first half, but SMU did a great job coming back from behind. And, of course, we couldn’t help showing our pride at the game, and I have a picture from that.

After the game, we all landed at the Gamma Phi house, where we watched The Little Mermaid, Beetle Juice, Hocus Pocus, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, ate pizza, and spent some time together just relaxing and basking in the glow of SMU’s win against Temple.

The true fun in Homecoming is spending time with friends, and I’m glad I was able to do that not only with my enginerds, but also with my fellow RCLC members as we spread the RC-love.

M at game

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A Tour of the New Build

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


This past week fellow blogger Meaghan and I got to tour the new builds that are set to open next year. It was kind of muddy, but the weather was beautiful and breezy! Besides, how cool do we look in our hard hats and construction jackets?


Check out this awesome space that we’re going to have in the new Arnold Dining Center! There are going to be two stories and lots and lots of space! Our hope is to be able to host entire Residential Commons dinners in our dining center once they have been revamped. There’s even an outside dining area!


How neat is it to finally be able to see a seedling of an idea bloom into such beautiful new builds?! These 5 new builds, along with the 6 existing, are going to set Residential Commons over the edge! I am most excited about Residential Commons because I believe it is the facelift that SMU needs. Southern Methodist University is most definitely rising in rankings, and it is time for us to add something new and unique to our institution.


And last but not least, a picture of my beautiful future home, Armstrong Commons. I am so excited to start working with my fellow RCLC members Tammy and Andrew, FiR Rita Kirk and my RCD Lauren Cove. Believe me when I say that SMU is on the horizon of a new era and Residential Commons is going to help lead us to greatness! Stay tuned for more updates.

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