One Community, Many Identities

SMU’s Service House (affectionately known as SMUSH around campus) is a diverse community made up of students of many majors, origins, ethnicities, creeds, and more. Residents complete 30 hours of community service per semester and all contribute to the success of the community through kitchen duty, event planning, and house programming.

The following is a compilation by current and past residents of the Service House highlighting the great aspects of SMUSH and how the community has affected them personally.

Arianna Santiago
Service House Resident

“We think it’s done,” our housemates told us. I eyed the flour coating the kitchen skeptically. Twenty-something starving college students were still waiting patiently in the common room, two hours after the highly-anticipated “All American Dinner” had been advertised. We had started a movie and were playing a highly competitive game of ping-pong, but after a rather large bang from the kitchen, I poked my head in to investigate.

Our chefs for the week showed me their pan of chicken. I blinked at it, complimented them on their seasoning, and called in reinforcements from the common room. Between all of us, we were able to salvage the side dishes and stick the chicken back in the oven where it belonged. And no one really minded.

I’ve been in several types of communities. Communities that you slip into like you’ve always belonged there, communities that had to be built from nothing, and communities that were grown. The Service House is a themed on-campus dormitory that houses twenty-eight people focused on performing community service throughout the Dallas area. And the group of people living there share a couple characteristics that have turned the house into a community rather than a dorm.

Community is built with intention. A big calendar sits in the common room that everyone writes their individual organization events on with an expo marker. Students share events and causes they care about at weekly house meetings, and any other resident who can attend does their best to show up to support the others.

We are a community built on serving each other and the community. Each member of the community serves on a committee that supports the house, from special events to service coordinator, faculty liaison to house meeting facilitator. A roommate pair cooks a meal for the entire house each week.

We are a community centered on diversity. With two-thirds of the house being minority groups, diversity is welcomed, and we run programs to discuss topics of civil rights. Each member has an opportunity to share their story at the weekly house meeting, and residents take turns giving a verbal encouragement to the speaker.

The members living in the Service House didn’t wake up one morning and all be friends. Community is built and sustained through effort, programming, and commitment. And what’s amazing about including leadership and committee opportunities within a community is that members can go out and build communities themselves.

Our housemates’ first foray into cooking may not have been the best, but we congratulated them on their effort for us just the same.

Erin Walsh
Service House Resident

SMUSH is a beautiful example of how people from all walks of life can quickly become a family! The mix of goofy moments and interesting conversations never fails to uplift me.

Andrea Salt
Service House Resident

Living in Service House provides a family that supports all you do, and connects you to the Dallas community in a way that lets you create direct change through helping others!

Liliana Mata
Service House Resident

Living in the service house connects you with students who are already active in leadership positions from various organizations on campus, and is a wonderful out-of-class learning environment.

Syd Clark
Service House Resident

Everyone in the Service House is committed to something greater than themselves. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who lives here (or has lived here in the past) who is not motivated and doesn’t have drive or purpose. It’s the perfect place to get inspired every single day #Litty

Micah Johnson
Service House RCD

I really appreciate the genuine family atmosphere in the house. It is great to have a safe space amongst all the chaos of college life, and I believe the Service House has the perfect combination of Adulting, Support, and Service.

Paul Lujan
SMU Class of 2016, Service House Alum

SMUSH forced me to look at the bigger issues surrounding service. Not only did I volunteer at schools but I asked why there was a misappropriation of resources in children’s education. Not only did I volunteer at Habitat-for-Humanity but I asked why homelessness is a bigger issue with different demographics. Not only did I help with short term fixes but I was also introduced to envisioning long term solutions.

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Applications to live in the Service House open December 2016 on Orgs@SMU

This article was written by Camille Aucoin. Click here to see more of Camille’s work.