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Residential Experience Working Group

Students walking past a residential house

Over the course of the 2018–19 academic year, the Residential Experience Working Group will conduct a comprehensive examination of how Smith, as an educational institution and a residential college, can most effectively optimize the potential of living and dining in community, in order to create an inclusive learning environment for all students.

Specifically, the Working Group will examine the potential for housing (including affinity housing), dining, and the linkages between the two to build community and support inclusion.

Outreach to all stakeholders will be a critical component of the Working Group’s work. 

By the close of the academic year, the Residential Experience Working Group will recommend to President McCartney opportunities and possibilities to move Smith College forward as an inclusive residential community.

Fall 2018 Update

During the fall 2018 semester, members of the working group focused their attention on the student residential experience in the houses. Through a series of 10 meetings, members examined various survey datasets including the college’s 2016 Pathways database and a housing database containing reasons why students elect to change housing assignments. Members also worked in small groups to gather ideas directly from students, faculty and staff on how to create healthy living communities within the houses.  

The focus groups generated responses from more than 700 students and 100 faculty and staff members. Below are highlights from a list of problem statements that were identified during the focus groups:

  • Residential housing staff would like Smith to provide more housing choices within current housing structures so that students are “pulled” toward a residential community where they feel they can thrive.
  • In the admission process, students are promised a “home away from home.” When conflict occurs in a student’s residence, the student may not know how to remedy the situation.
  • Student survey data show that there are multiple communities within each house, but some students may not feel they belong to any of them.
  • In the past, dining staff helped to bring students together during mealtimes in the houses. Now, dining staff are trying to meet the dietary needs of students who have varying mealtime schedules and who may eat in a number of locations.

At the end of January 2019, members of the working group will submit recommendations to President McCartney on ways the college “can most effectively optimize the potential of living in community” in the houses.  The working group will then begin its work to understand how the college “can most effectively optimize the potential of dining in community” throughout the spring semester.  The working group will prepare a final set of recommendations to President McCartney by the beginning of May 2019.  

Working Group Membership

  • Susan Etheredge ’77
    Dean of the College and Vice President for Campus Life, chair
  • Joseph Bacis
    Chef, Dining Services
  • Ryenne Carpenter ’19
    Chair of the House Presidents’ Association
  • Andrew Cox
    Director of Dining Services
  • Madeleine DelVicario ’93
    Program Coordinator, Alumnae Relations
  • Patricia DiBartolo ’89
    Associate Dean of the Faculty/Dean for Academic Development
  • Yacine Fall ’21
    President of the First-Year Class, 2017–18
  • Dawn Fulton
    Professor of French Studies
  • Kris Mereigh
    Director of Wellness Services and Health Education
  • Roger Mosier
    Associate Vice President for Facilities and Operations
  • Jenna Pepe ’19
    Vice President of the Student Government Association and Senate Chair
  • Elizabeth Pryor
    Associate Professor of History
  • Danielle Carr Ramdath
    Associate Dean of the College and Dean of the Senior Class
  • Amy Rhodes ’91
    Professor of Geosciences
  • L'Tanya Richmond
    Dean of Multicultural Affairs
  • Mariana Estrella Rivera AC ’16
    Area Coordinator
  • Rebecca Shaw
    Associate Dean of Students and Director of Residential Life
  • Starry Yujia Zhou ’20
    International students program leader