The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


New residential commons aim to improve student life, ties

Taylor Corrigan had a tough decision to make upon receiving her acceptance letter to SMU. She knew she wanted to be involved on campus and that community service was important to her. However, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be typecast as a New Century Scholar, a program based around community service.

“I was worried. What if this group isn’t the one I want to be associated with. What if I don’t want to be put in this category,” Corrigan said.

All worries vanished when she stepped foot onto the second floor of McElvaney Hall on Aug. 20, 2011.

Now a sophomore marketing major, Corrigan said she felt fortunate to be a part of an exclusive residential community as a freshman.

“The best thing about the program was that we lived together and it made us closer as a group. We had more in common and were around people who were dedicated to the same thing,” Corrigan said.

Programs such as New Century and Hilltop Scholar have been such a success that SMU wishes to provide all students the opportunity to form a sense of community in an academic environment.

“I want everyone to experience what I had because it was really awesome,” Corrigan said.

By fall of 2014, SMU will have transformed existing residential communities and added five new communities to create a residential commons model that integrates academics with an on-campus residential experience for all of its students.

The concept of the residential commons model derives from Oxford University and Cambridge University’s residential systems. SMU is joining the likes of Harvard, Duke and Vanderbilt ­- schools that utilize a similar system.

Assistant Director of Residence Life Jeff Grim said that most of the current housing offerings and all of the new buildings on the southeast corner of campus will be a part of the residential commons and will be open for the fall of 2014.

The commons will add 1,250 beds to the campus along with a new dining commons and an 800-space parking garage.
Guaranteed on-campus housing for the first two years at SMU is a concept that many current students envy. Currently only first year students are guaranteed housing on campus while second-year students and upper classmen must apply and enter a lottery to be eligible to live on campus.

Sophomore Cole Blocker said he chose to live off campus because he didn’t like the odds of the lottery system. Blocker said he was worried his friends would not have been selected and he didn’t want to live on campus while his friends lived off campus.

Students will be randomly assigned to a residential commons so that each commons will hold a diverse group of students, representing the diversity of SMU as a body.

“Each RC will be a microcosm of SMU,” Grim said.

The students will remain in the same commons for their first and second year. Sophomores will be eligible to meet the second year residence requirement by living in a fraternity or sorority house.

The program aims to allow students to establish a feeling of home in their community and develop close-knit relationships in an academic setting.

A team of live-in faculty and staff members, resident assistants, and other student leaders will provide support for each community.

Faculty members associated with each commons will have the opportunity to interact informally and mentor students according to said that each commons will aim to creates its own unique traditions.

“Most will develop over time as faculty in-residence, students, and residential community directors work together to create communities. In the 2013- 2014 academic year students, staff and faculty will work together to think about how they may want their communities to be, starting in Aug.2014,” Grim said.
The residential commons initiative aims to give residents long-term bonds to their commons and a sense of pride in their community.

“We hope that the RC will do alumni events like BBQs and RC dinners that students could be invited to,” Grim said.

The SMU website says that students will have a close-knit, living and learning environment where a rich intellectual, social and community life can flourish.

Corrigan, the New Century scholar, experienced the close-knit atmosphere herself and is in support of the new commons development because she thinks every student should experience the bonds she and her fellow scholars created.

“A lot of them are in my best friend group now. We even traveled abroad this summer,” said Corrigan. 

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