Fostering a sense of community and inclusion as part of the college experience is one of the earliest expressed values of the college. Using its status as a "fledgling" college to its advantage, Eckerd took the initiative in distancing its community from controversial residential traditions prevalent at other colleges. In 1961, students banned the practice of hazing freshmen, establishing Freshman Help Week instead — a week meant to ease the transition of new students into college life, and to introduce them to the features of life on campus. The more noted complement to Freshmen Help Week was the college's Pre-College Conferences. A comprehensive orientation to life at Eckerd, these conferences featured introductions to the college's academic environment, its services, and offered social opportunities for new students to mix, mingle, get advice and solve problems with their peers. Steak cookouts anyone?
Present in those early days was the basic framework for what future Eckerd students would come to know as Autumn Term. Expanding the original community ethic of the Pre-College Conferences, Autumn Term is an immersion in the campus community and an introduction to not only its individual values, but also their interrelation through activities that emphasize academics, spirituality, service and community. The 1980s saw the emergence of both the Volunteer Fair and the Kon-Tiki Raft Race as major components of Autumn Term, both of which have brought countless students together in collaborative efforts that benefit the local community.
Presenting the campus community as an integral part of the larger academic endeavor at Eckerd shaped the dorm experience itself, and led to the persistence of themed housing (health & wellness houses, pet houses, service houses, etc.), where students can express the values to which they are exposed academically in the way that they choose to live.
All of these features and more have contributed to the solidification of a residential experience that is and will continue to be uniquely Eckerd.