Featured Stories

Managing a Move in the Middle of a Global Pandemic

It is often said that moving is one of the most stressful life events. Imagine, if you will, having to move during a global pandemic when you are halfway across the country. This is the exact situation that our residential students found themselves in shortly after Spring Break 2020. In this time, Residence Life and Student Housing (RLSH) staff were tasked with creating a move out process to enable students to gather their belongings safely and efficiently. We knew there would be challenges, and we knew we would not be able to create something that worked for everyone. However, we planned a process to meet the needs of most students. From that point forward, our staff worked with diligence and compassion to support students through their unique and personal situations.

As we approached this challenge, we quickly thought through the situation and created moving options for those students with travel restrictions, health concerns, or financial hardships that prevented them from returning to campus to collect their belongings. These included the option to choose a moving company or identify a proxy to help move belongings on their behalf. Additionally, we had to think through options for those students who had nowhere else to go or were unable to leave campus during the pandemic. In the midst of all of this, we were able to create a pathway that allowed these students to remain in their on-campus home. Our hope for both of these processes was to provide all residential students the ability to choose what was best for them based on their own personal needs.

We want to thank you for creating such a safe and efficient move out process. [We] had multiple flights cancelled on our way from Charleston to Dallas, but you and your team supported us all along the way. Thank you for being flexible as we made requests to change our move out time. When we made it to Dallas, the move out was simple and easy. I can’t even imagine the hours you all have put in to manage this process. We just want you to know that we appreciate your efforts, and it is a job well done!

-SMU Parent

While the dust settled from students moving out and our team transitioning to a limited number of residential students, Residential Commons Directors, Faculty in Residence, and their leadership teams worked together to create virtual programs and initiatives that kept students engaged in their community and with one another. One such success was the Virginia-Snider Trivia Night. Trivia Night is a wildly competitive, semesterly program that attracts multiple teams, and the Virginia-Snider leadership team wasn’t going to let a global pandemic stand in their way! They utilized their technology skills to pull off a well-attended and successful virtual experience that allowed students to feel connected to a commons’ tradition while remote.

During this time, RLSH didn’t operate as an island unto themselves; our staff collaborated with multiple campus partners to help support our students through these unprecedented and ambiguous times. Whether it was connecting with the Dean of Students office for an emergency fund request or working with Associate Provost for Student Academic Engagement and Success, Dr. Sheri Kunovich, and her team to support students in their remote learning experience and retention efforts, RLSH staff made sure to connect residents to all of the SMU resources available to them.

Residence Life and Student Housing is a unit equipped to handle the most obscure and random emergencies you can imagine; yet, a global pandemic was not something we had ever imagined. As we reflect on the processes developed to safely close our communities during these ever-changing and unprecedented times, we would say the RLSH staff rose to the challenge of meeting the needs of students and providing the same level of care and support they would have found if they were still living with us on campus.

For more information about Residence Life and Student Housing at SMU, please visit

Featured Stories

HUB Leaders | Leadership that unifies

The Housing Unification Board (HUB) is a group of nine undergraduate students who work to support and enhance the residential experience, and the Residential Commons system. Accomplishing their mission through advocacy, training and development, inclusivity, and programmatic opportunities, the HUB benefits and impacts all residents of SMU.

Photo of Stephanie DodgenOne of the first interactive experiences I had on campus was through Commons Cup. You might ask, “Well, what is Commons Cup?” It is opportunity on SMU’s campus wherein each Residential Commons comes together in a friendly competition throughout the year. There are four categories with multiple events and programs that count towards the Commons Cup. One of my favorite events is Battleship in the Pool, which involves three canoes with four team members in each who attempt to sink the other canoes. Through Commons Cup, we try to reach all students within the commons system by providing various types of programming. For example, we include intellectual opportunities like a trivia night in an event called QuizBowl, creative ones such as a Talent Show, service-oriented experiences including The Big Event, and physical activity-related competitions such as RC games and intramurals for athletics. Every event requires planning on our side but also the drive of each commons to show their spirit.

The Housing Unification Board (HUB) started my sophomore year at SMU and I was given the opportunity to be a part of its charter year. From these experiences, I’ve learned what it takes to make a successful program through meticulous planning and active marketing. This year is my second on the HUB, and as the Executive Director and the past Director of Community Collaborations, I’ve had many experiences and opportunities to learn how to program on a large scale.

I first joined HUB to become active on campus and to be able to make an impact on the residential experience for all students. This leadership position unites the different commons and fosters a culture on campus where students can participate in a safe campus life experience. Together with the other directors we worked to represent resident issues on campus and provide Hall Improvement Funds to build more community within each Residential Commons. One of our goals is to provide opportunities for each of the commons to continue to build community through Community Development Funds.

I’ve learned many things from this leadership experience, but the main one would be self-discipline. Although it takes time to set up the events, I’ve learned to plan ahead and schedule around classes to ensure that programs are successful. Serving as Executive Director on the Housing Unification Board has been a wonderful experience and a great opportunity for me to develop my interpersonal and leadership skills.

Written by Stephanie Dodgen, Executive Director of the Housing Unification Board

Photo of Madi Tedrow wearing a blue shirt, she has medium length brown hair and is smiling with her head slightly tiltedMy involvement with Student Affairs, specifically as HUB Director of Marketing, has pushed me outside my comfort zone in two main ways.

As an engineering major, I don’t often have the opportunity to flex my creative muscles, but the HUB has challenged me to think in different and out-of-the-box ways with graphic design and advertising. I try to incorporate this creativity into my work in ways that also allow me to learn new skills like stop-motion animation, PhotoShop, and various audiovisual editing platforms.

HUB has also made me incredibly passionate about building community—something I didn’t realize I cared so deeply about until I became more involved with Student Affairs. I think the HUB opened my eyes to the incredible spectrum of people on campus and how important it is that we are connected to one another. As a result, I’ve become very invested in listening to people’s stories, experiences, and ideas and making it a part of not only my position on the HUB, but my everyday life to make those things heard.

Written by Madi Tedrow, Director of Marketing for the Housing Unification Board

For more information about Residence Life and Student Housing, please visit