By Christian Loeffler
We all know that they are among us. They sit with us in class. They study in the library. They congregate on the first floor of Placid Hall. “They” are commuters.
Commuters Matis Stephens and Sarah Mott noted issues that residential students may not recognize, spanning communication and community concerns.
Stephens and Mott both stated that they feel welcome as commuters and are generally satisfied with the availability of places to kill down-time on campus. Mott, however, said that commuters on campus are not always busy and that, outside of studying, "there is not a lot to do.”
Mott explained that she knows there are a lot of events that happen on campus, but that she is often unaware of most.
"My issue with all of the food services and the pricing on campus is that it's not consistent." - Sarah Mott
"We were assigned a pod at the beginning year, but we don't actually really hear about any of the events or anything going on," said Mott. "Everything just kind of seems posted up and then nobody ever sees it."
Mott, a freshman, said that communication on campus is generally lacking.
"There's no really central system. In high school, they have the announcements [and] everybody knows what is going on, generally," she explained.
Stephens, a sophomore, said there are commuter-exclusive events on campus, such as picnics, doughnut days, and holiday events every now and then, but that there are not many daytime activities that involve both residents and commuters.
Clubs, while a source for students to connect, typically hold meetings and events at night she said.
"I'm lucky I live twenty minutes away, but if someone lives farther away, it would hurt them a lot more,” Stephens said.
Stephens also noted that the path from Lot A to the school is is poorly lit at night. So, Stephens suggested that more weekend events may prove to be effective for students looking for something to do.
Mott said that she feels like commuters get the short end of the stick with trying to figure out the schedule.
"You feel like you miss out [on] last-minute ‘let's go out’ things." - Matis Stephens
"I know my classes end at 4:30 p.m. at the latest, so [either] I'm usually there for a few hours or I have to go home and come back, and that's kind of a waste of gas," she said.
Emphasizing a disconnect between residents and commuters, Stephens said that even when unofficial meet-ups, practices, and study groups are set up, commuters are rarely considered. She explained that gathering times are scheduled later in the evening or during a break after classes so that residents can get food or relax, but commuters cannot unwind until returning home.
"You feel like you miss out [on] last-minute ‘let's go out’ things," said Stephens, such as the midnight trips to Walmart. Stephens said she has only been on late night runs a few times, which are "really fun."
Stephens also said that sometimes commuters can miss shared humor. Examples include jokes from professors about living in certain dorms, eating food from the cafeteria every day, and the like.
"Sometimes, people will make examples and jokes that are like 'oh yeah, you guys know that right?'" she explained.
Mott and Stephens both stated that they would like to see an improvement in food service pricing and experience for commuters and residents alike.
"My issue with all of the food services and the pricing on campus is that it's not consistent,” said Mott.
Mott explained that, when eating at the Shack, her food is sometimes charged at prices both higher and lower than the listed price, causing her to carefully watch how workers at the register input items.
“I have to keep track of what's in my account,” Mott stated.
Mott said she does not have a regular meal plan and relies on an account balance. Even as a student, Mott stated that the Shack area can be a bit confusing in terms of pricing and how to order food, and that she needed assistance in knowing how to order her first time.
Stephens explained that facilities can also be unclear as the Shack has hours of operation located on a large sign outside the facility, but that the cafeteria does not. Additionally, she said, the on-campus dining hours are limited, especially with activities that run late in the night.
Stephens said she would suggest that maybe there should be some food pantry or cabinet made accessible until later hours.
"I feel like there could be more options," said Mott.