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Commentary: Frustration Among Some Commuter Students

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I am homeless. I live on the streets of a place named in honor of a holy man named Francis. Every morning, I have to wake up, get dressed, gather my things, and pray that my car will start.

After a jerky ride and frantic search for a parking spot, I arrive to my first class. Do I have money for breakfast today? Or should I save it to get gas on the way home? I’m done with class, but I have three hours until a mandatory event for class. I can’t go home. Everywhere else on campus is crowded.

I guess I’ll go wait in my car.

During Freshman Orientation, everyone tells you that the only difference between a resident and a commuter is that a commuter lives at home and a resident lives on campus.

A recent survey suggests that many SFU commuters sing a different tune.

“I – as well as a few of my commuting friends – associate commuting with being homeless,” said one survey respondent.

One of the reasons some commuters feel this way is because the commuter lounge was eliminated this year. The lounge used to be the room next to Frankie’s, but due to renovations to Schwab Hall, Red Radio is currently occupying this space.

The new “commuter lounge” is now an open space in Frankie’s.

“There is nowhere for us to go and relax if we want to nap or do work without distraction, or even just hang out with other commuters and get to know our fellow students,” said another survey participant.

“And the new ‘commuter lounge’ in Frankie’s is just awkward.”

Most of the commuters surveyed agree that it’s hard for them to connect with on-campus residents because these students don’t understand the challenges that commuters face.

One of these challenges is that most commuters have lots of responsibilities, including jobs, family obligations, etc. These factor into attending events and meetings and getting involved in activities.

Most activities, meetings and events on campus are during the evening. Some start as late as 11 p.m. For commuters, this is not convenient.

In the survey, commuters were asked to rank the accessibility of events on campus, with 1 being “not accessible at all” and 10 being “very accessible.”

The results were varied. Three students ranked “accessibility” between 7 and 10. However, the rest of the survey participants ranked accessibility at 4 or less.

“It is not forbidden for commuters to join groups and participate in activities,” said one participant, “but the hours set for them made me feel like I wasn’t welcome.”

Another complaint was restricted access to the residence halls. On cold nights, it’s hard to find a place on campus to keep warm with your friends.

“I cannot swipe myself into even female dorms,” said one female survey participant. “It wasn’t fun having to stand outside a dorm waiting for a friend to let me in while it was so cold that my hands were becoming stiff.”

The survey suggested that most commuters try to avoid eating on campus because of the price of food. Most bring their own lunch or go off campus.

“It is not fair that we have to pay full price for campus meals just because we don’t live here,” said one participant.

“Everyone forgets about us” seems to be the mantra of many commuters here at Saint Francis.

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Commentary: Frustration Among Some Commuter Students