“It’s almost a cliché to say that you change when you go to college. And it is a curious idea in a sense: students are accepted to Vanderbilt, after all, because of who they already are and, more importantly, how they will bring ideas, traits, and experiences to campus as members of a larger community. So perhaps it is more accurate to say that how you think about yourself—your identity, your choices, your beliefs—may change, especially as you find yourself in fascinating, sometimes challenging, conversations with people who may appear to be different from you."
—Vanessa Beasley, associate provost and dean of residential faculty,
Living on The Commons encourages students to begin the process of self-discovery and clarify their own ethical, spiritual, and civic personal values.
As members of both the Vanderbilt and Nashville communities, first-year students further their understanding of not only their own values but also of their responsibility to the community at large. Through dialogue, intentional programming, and student-led initiatives, students challenge their personal development, broaden their understanding of their own identities, and contribute to the integrity of the community.
All houses host programming throughout the year that allows for engagement with the community—for example, the houses participate in The Commons Cup Penny War each year, in which the winner chooses the charity to which all funds are donated. Last year, the houses jointly raised $1,857.50, which was donated evenly between four organizations: Oasis, Room in the Inn, the American Red Cross, and the Make a Wish Foundation. Furthermore, each house hosts sustainability-themed events, such as Murray Munchies Unplugged, to encourage students to more significantly consider efforts to green their actions and daily behaviors.