Soto is an all-freshman dorm located on the east side of campus, in the community of dormitories known together as Wilbur Hall.
The house is comprised of one-room doubles, with one-room singles available under special condition.
In addition to two Resident Fellows, Soto has seven student staff members, all of which are available to the 85 freshmen residents who reside there. Soto is located at the northeast corner of Wilbur Hall.
Many in-dorm activities and “off-the-farm” events are planned throughout the year for both intellectual and recreational purposes.
2019-20 Resident Fellows: Karen Hirsch and Tony Forte
2018-19 Resident Fellows: Janet Carlson and Tim Burke
Janet and Tim are the Resident Fellows at Soto House. After living in Colorado for 27 years, our move to Palo Alto in 2013 represents a return to the area for Tim and a new adventure for Janet.Janet’s career has been as a science educator, starting as classroom teacher and gradually moving into work that includes curriculum development, professional development, and research. Currently she directs the Center to Support Excellence in Teaching in the Graduate School of Education. The mission of the center, and Janet’s professional mission as well, is to support excellence in K-12 teaching so that all students have high-quality learning experiences. This quest for equity in all its many forms has guided her work and her personal life.
Tim is retired from a rewarding career working for the city of Colorado Springs. He used his industrial engineering degree to streamline operations in both field and office settings. And he used his communications skills to write speeches for mayors, work with groups of citizens, explain budgets to reporters, and meet with state legislators. He spent his last years with the city as the legislative liaison for the city council. He is firm believer in the responsibility of citizens to guide the direction of the communities in which they live and a strong advocate of civil discourse and civic engagement at every level of society, whether within their own residential house, at the state house, or in the White House.
We both have experience living in community settings. While living in Colorado we spent several years in a co-housing community that worked to reduce one’s energy footprint by using less space, sharing resources, and cooking and sharing community meals. We made decisions through a consensus process that fostered understanding and empathy. Tim used his training as a facilitator to lead many community meetings. Janet served on the Community Administration Team. We are experienced in the challenges and rewards of helping other people understand why their friends and neighbors may see issues from differing perspectives.
We look forward to working with our staff and residents to develop a sense of community within Soto House that is grounded in equity, engagement, and mutual respect.
What’s the coolest thing about your house and community?
We plan to foster teamwork among staff members, which will then translate into a sense of engagement, and community among Soto residents. We want Soto to be known as a close-knit community where residents look out for one another. Our six staff members have fostered an atmosphere for our residents that has made this building the next-best-thing to being at home. Our lounge is like the “family room” of our dorm – residents are always present studying, helping each other with homework, playing pool or ping pong, and just hanging out together. Soto is a close-knit community where residents look out for one another.
What qualities make a successful Soto staff team member?
Likely Soto staff members are mature, secure, flexible people who are willing to put their own interests aside for the greater good of the team and the health of the house, and who are committed to building a sense of community within Soto house through a mix of informal fun and planned, intentional programming. Staff members should be enthusiastic about initiating and leading activities for the house. They should help the frosh build a community rather than hoping to relive their own freshman year. They should be willing and able to engage in self-reflection; listen to and apply constructive feedback from residents, fellow staff, and the RFs; make mature and difficult decisions that support the house values; enjoy getting to know the students in the house in meaningful ways; and be willing to communicate openly, honestly, and frequently with RFs and other staff.
What’s your favorite event or tradition in your house?
We would love to have a staff that challenges “traditions” such as snow trip and large parties and is willing to consider activities that engender community in more daily ways, punctuated with interesting, bigger events. We enjoy the comaraderie of sharing routine meals and conversations in the dining hall with our residents and having residents in the RF cottage to cook, converse, do crafts, or play games. We also enjoy participating in events that celebrate who people are and who they want to be, experiencing the outdoors and cultural events, and engaging in conversations and actions that address social and political issues of the day.