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How and Why to Get Involved With Your Residential Commons

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SMU chapter.

Dorm living is one of the inevitable joys of college life. “Joys” like community bathrooms, washing machines that don’t spin and the smell of weed on any given night make college the strengthening experience it’s meant to be. These “joys” are counteracted by the amazing community that can be found in a residential commons system. On any given night, you can walk into the hall of your living space and run into a friend. Study groups can be formed with people living less than 30 seconds from you, which is both a liberating and effective way of life.

Unfortunately the magic of residential commons doesn’t happen without a lot of work, both from administration and students alike. On the side of administration, you have RCD’s who are your residential commons directors. They are employees that live in the dorm and are in charge of the dorm. They help facilitate events and are behind the scenes with all of the technical things that make a dorm run. There are also FIR’s who are your faculty-in-residence. They host events, sometimes have dogs, and are there to make sure you are thriving!

Now as a student, there is a lot you can do! First of all, be respectful. It’s kind of crazy, but when people get to college, they seem to lose all sense of manners. Clean up after yourself, wash your hands, keep the volume at a reasonable level and you will be loved. It’s really not hard to throw away take-out in a trash room versus the bathroom trash cans. Little things make dorm life much more livable.

Second, fill out work requests! For SMU students, this website will allow you to easily fill out a form and get facilities to fix the problem. This is a direct line to facilities, and it allows you to follow up with them to make sure the task is completed. It is easy to resign ourselves to thinking that someone else will fill it out, but that mindset means no one does. Do it as soon as you notice an issue and it will pay off.


RA’s are another huge student component in the layout of dorms. Resident Assistant’s  care for students, and they also help enforce rules. Obviously they understand the plight of dorm life as they themselves have to live it, so they are great to talk to if you have issues with a roommate, a course or personal problems.

Finally, join Commons Council! Commons Council is a group of students that decide what kind of environment the dorm will be. They plan events, discuss issues and plans to fix them, and most of all they are the voice of the students. It’s very important to have your voice heard, and college is the perfect time to learn that if you want something done right, do it yourself. Commons Council puts power in the hands of the people affected by things like plumbing issues and behavioral disputes. Find someone in your building that is a member, and find out when commons council meets. Typically, they meet once a week.

Despite the issues that come with dorm living, it is really a character building exercise that builds more respectful and diverse people. Put in good, and get good back from your residential commons!


We are the SMU Team.