SMU pilot program gives professors the chance to revisit dorm life

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by MIKE CASTELLUCCI

WFAA

Posted on October 4, 2013 at 5:05 PM

UNIVERSITY PARK –– Through a pilot program at Southern Methodist University, professors now have the chance to not only live on campus. They can revisit dorm life. 

“What might be the problem with correlating low IQ and criminal behavior?”  asks Clinical Professor Ann Batenburg. 

After a long day engaging minds in educational psychology with college students, Batenburg enjoys nothing more than getting away from it all in her private retreat.

“This is the nicest place I have ever lived and I include my home on the north shore of Chicago,” she said. 

Her residence is 1,400 square feet. There’s a lovely guest bathroom and a roomy bedroom. The kitchen is wide and spacious. 

And that’s it. But it really isn’t a retreat from students; her apartment is on the first floor of the dorm. 

“I’m inside a residence hall,” Batenburg laughs. 

Yes, among all the bare feet and student election posters is this professor’s house.

“I think there will be a wide range of reactions to this,” she said. “I’ve had two reactions: Those who are very excited and those who walk away when I go by.” 

One only needs to have an impromptu gathering of the neighbors to see that range. One student thinks it’s cool: Ann bakes cookies for them every Sunday.

And what about hanging out together? Batenburg says most of their “hanging out” will be in the cafeteria.

“This gorgeous palatial estate I get to live in for free, and they pay a stipend, and we get a parking spot? But I would have done it without all that,” she said. 

It brings new meaning to the co-ed dorm. She has an open door policy. Her front door has an outside entrance to the dorm. Her back door opens straight into Virginia Snyder’s first floor.

“I think it’s too new to have any issues yet. There is very little noise, very peaceful evenings,” she said. 

It seems like it would make a good psychology experiment –– maybe her home life will one day mix with her curriculum, if it hasn’t already.

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