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Life in the Residential Commons

Crests and Traditions

The key feature of our design is the Armstrong cupola which is the iconic architectural element of our common. It is also the most elevated point in the Commons, reflecting our goal to rise to the top. The color red was specifically chosen because it is a favorite of the Armstrong family in addition to representing SMU.  Also, red symbolizes strength, power, determination, passion and love.  These qualities represent the characteristics we feel the Armstrong Commons embodies.  The color gold was chosen to symbolize the gold dome of our cupola. Underneath the Armstrong name are five lines. The five lines represent the five inaugural members of the RCLC.  In addition the line are symbolic of vineyard rows, a nod to the Armstrong family. 

The acacia branch at the top represents eternal and affectionate remembrance; blue (in general) represents trust, security, stability, calm, and harmony and we just liked the cerulean shade.  The stars represent each of us on the founding Commons team members and our five values: Mentorship, Community, Compassion, Integrity, and Zeal.  The large “B” stands for Boaz.

The Cockrell-McIntosh Crest is the symbol most closely associated with The Commons. Each part of the Crest has specific symbolic significance. The Laurel Wreath is typically symbolic of victory and often associated with academic achievement (for instance, the Poet Laureate). The wreath consists of 12 leaves, each one symbolizing one of the original Residential Commons. The eighth leave counterclockwise from the upper left represents Cockrell-McIntosh, because in the 8th month of the year school begins. Inside the wreath, the arches in front of Cockrell-McIntosh Commons are depicted. The sun rising symbolizes our new beginnings, light, and truth. Joseph Elmore Cockrell was a judge and involved with the Dedman School of Law, which is why the swords are included that symbolize justice. Also included is the Latin Motto “Servetium et Doctrina”, which translates to “Service and Scholarship.” Since McIntosh was a language professor, a Latin motto would only be appropriate.

The quill represents the faculty members and their scholarly work (Wisdom). On the upperleft quadrant, the steering wheel represents navigating the complexities of college, personally and professionally, with integrity (Service). Located at the top right, the candle, signifies learning and enlightenment while at SMU (Purpose). Finally the pillar represents the steadfast discipline that is needed to be successful in college and that Mr. Crum exhibited in his professional life (Discipline).
The symbols on the Kathy Crow Commons crest are meaningful and describe the foundation of our community.  The trumpet exemplifies the creative talents of the community and also serves as a nod to our neighbor, the Mustang Band hall.  The compass signifies the exploration of ideas and the importance of Kathy Crow Commons in helping residents to reach their life's destination.  The acorn represents our community symbol, the Mighty Oak Tree.  Our tree represents the importance of growth through collaboration and unity.  The acorn symbolizes the learning and development that happen during the beginning years of college, laying a firm foundation throughout the rest of their years at SMU and beyond.

The symbolism that is used on the crest is known to only residents of Loyd Residential Commons.


The torch symbolizes the pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment that McElvaney seeks to embolden while the cornucopia symbolizes prosperity and success.The red circle represents the welcome table that stands for three values of McElvaney: unity, equality and community. The Welcome Table is a concept developed by Distinguished SMU Alumni Rev. William K. McElvaney.



MM students are strong leaders with respect for power, integrity, and character. These values are reflected in the navy we wear, showing our dedication to our values. The color white represents our commitment to sincerity and excellence in all we do. The torch stands for the light of character and integrity. MM Students value personal responsibility, and the development of character through community interactions and service to others. The quill located on the right hand side of the crest exemplifies enlightenment through education. This theme is central to our community and our time at SMU. Students are committed to academic excellence and the pursuit of knowledge and are supported by the community through programming and mentorship from peers. Located at the bottom, the ivy leaves represent the strong and lasting friendship students have with each other and the SMU Community.
Represented by the intertwined MMs, our community hopes that through our values, traditions, and programming, we will be bound together and find connections that are complex, intertwined, and lasting. Morrison-McGinnis residents will find strength and security in our community as represented by the pillars at the top of our crest. The 5 pillars represent the 5 founding members of Morrison-McGinnis Commons.

The Trinity Knot, also known as a Triquetra, symbolizes the joining of our three residence halls, Mary Hay, Peyton, and Shuttles halls in unity and shared purpose. Each of the three intertwined elements represents one of the residence halls. The circle emphasizes the unity of the whole combination of the three residence halls. The symbol reflects our motto "Tria ut Unum”, or “Three as One”.


The elephant is incredibly important to the history of Virginia Snider Commons. During the construction of Snider Hall, a relief sculpture of an elephant mysteriously appeared on the building. Since, VS has embraced the idea of the elephant. To us, it symbolizes strength, wisdom, courage, happiness, and tradition. Elephants stick together in a pack, and we believe that residents of VS stick together in this same way, forming the tight-knit community we have today. The diamond pattern that appears on the lower-left portion of the crest is meant to reflect the protection that students receive from the Commons.

The Ware Residential Commons crest is made up of three distinct symbols. The first being the integral symbol on the left side of the crest. The integral symbol is a mathematical symbol meaning necessary, composed of parts that together make a whole. This symbol perfectly represented the idea that Ware Residential Commons was made up of individual people, every single one of which is necessary, to create the greater whole. The symbol also represented Integrity. The next symbol was the infinity symbol on the right, which represented that the Ware Residential Commons and all of its members would continue to always be a part of the Ware Residential Commons and live by its value and motto long after they had left SMU. The two symbols were then put together in one representation of the Infinite Integral, which is the official symbol of Ware Residential Commons.

"It is incredibly important that SMU students experience a young, powerful and positive family of color. For many students, creating positive relationships with an African-American man, a Mexican woman and two biracial children can be transformative."

Will Power, Artist-in-Residence, Theatre in Meadows School of the Arts