On Sept. 22, the Division of Student Life hosted a Commuter Student Welcome providing free lunch for commuters. Hopefully, this is the first of many events created for commuters at Whittier College this year. For colleges with residential life, it can be easy to have a focus on residential students and keep them in mind when creating on-campus events. However, it is also important to consider commuters. For many commuter students, making the campus more commuter-friendly could help when taking a break in-between classes, connecting with other students, and attending campus social events.
As a commuter myself, it can be hard trying to hang out with friends outside of classes or attend on campus events, especially when trying to find a time that does not interfere with classes, homework, or work. Not to mention, most commuter students may have home obligations (like chores) they may need to attend to after classes. Even when I have time between classes to attend an event going on, I usually find myself foregoing the event so I can work on my assignments. After all, walking five minute to a residential hall leaves you with enough time to work on your assignments in your dorm or even in the library; while commuting 20–30 minutes to an hour could leave you with less time than you like to work on said assignments. That is not even considering any family responsibilities you may have to do if you live with your parents.
When asked about how on-campus events can be created with commuter students in mind, third-year Dayquan Moeller said, “[Having] more events throughout the day and over the weekend rather than in the evenings, because sometimes it is difficult and exhausting driving home at night on weekdays.” Off-campus students can agree that it is frustrating to constantly drive back and forth from home and school to go to any campus event. It can lead to almost a half-day in itself, depending on the commute. Making the campus more commuter-friendly is important for commuters to feel like they are part of the campus life at the College. So how can we make that possible? Here are a few ideas:
Commuter Student Association — Make it a Regular Thing
Yes, a Commuter Student Association exists on campus. We even have a commuter representative on the ASWC Senate. The thing is, does the Commuter Student Association have meetings? The Poet Update emails have not said anything about it, if they did. Having meetings where commuter students get together to discuss what kind of events they want to see and to communicate any problems they have on campus can be helpful. Obviously, these meetings would have to be during the day and at a time where not many students have classes. Even for the commuters who cannot attend, sending out an email at least once a month with a link to a form for commuters to fill out about what they want to see on-campus and to give feedback on what kind of resources would be useful for commuters can be helpful. Especially for the commuter representative, so they know what issues to bring up in the ASWC Senate; we cannot just expect them to know about how all commuters are feeling if we do not let them know.
Connecting With Other Commuters
Moeller suggested, when asked what kind of events would be great for commuters, “I would like to see more opportunities to connect with commuters, especially those who are commuting from the same neighborhoods/communities as me.” Connecting with other commuters can definitely help in creating a stronger sense of community on campus. Connecting with those from the same neighborhoods can also be beneficial; if you carpool with one another, it would save a lot of money on gas, as well as help the environment. According to the Commuter Students page, commuter meet-ups are done once a month to connect with other commuters and learn about resources on campus. However, having multiple kinds of meet-ups can provide commuters the chance to attend at least one per month instead of waiting the next month to see if they are even able to attend.
Commuters Need Food Available at All Times
Unfortunately, The Spot hours are not working for commuters. Being open from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. does not give all commuters the opportunity to eat before, after, or in-between classes. Commuters are usually on-campus in the morning in order to avoid the hassle of finding parking, and while the Campus Inn is certainly available, it is known that more commuters use the Spot than CI. Finding ways to make sure commuters get food is essential, especially for commuters who find themselves staying way after 4:00 p.m.. It is not useful to walk all the way into Uptown in between classes or finding the time to make our own lunch simply because our free time does not align with the hours for the Spot or CI.
If you have any questions about resources for commuters, or even suggestions, contact the number and email on the Commuter Students page on the College website.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Chris Mok