"Living on The Commons presents unique and extraordinary opportunities to explore your own identity in community with others who are also eager to celebrate difference and make happen a transformative experience of inclusion, belonging, and discovery. In so doing, we discover the world outside of our physical boundaries as well—right here on our halls, in the dining center, and in our classrooms.
—Professor Chalene Helmuth, Faculty Head of Sutherland House
First-year students learn to explore, live, and celebrate The Commons' diverse community by developing thorough understandings of identities, biases, stereotypes, and cultural competencies.
We seek to empower students to contribute to the creation of an inclusive community that embraces and honors people of all backgrounds and experiences. Each year, the country flags of all 1,600 students' national identities are displayed in atrium of The Commons Center, to honor the experiences and backgrounds that the entire first-year class brings to The Commons.
In fall 2015, The Commons also hosted the Portal to Mexico, an art installation piece that sought to provoke thought about today's globalization while bridging culture with technology. Through intentional programming—such as this piece and other dialogues about privilege and bias—first-year students are able to further their understanding of both other members of the community and themselves.
“Living on The Commons has challenged and grown me in a way that’s healthy instead of overwhelming. Through close friendships with those in my house, I have been in constant contact with diversity—culturally, religious, racially, and academically. By sharing our experiences and perceptions, we can better understand each other, but we also come to better understand ourselves.”