The following opinion piece was submitted by Mailani Faucett, a student in COMM 100
It’s no secret that living on campus is one of many college experiences most people look forward to. But realistically, it’s not for everyone. I talked to a few students and my first-year advisor to see what issues they think commuter students experience. And the common theme in all their responses: inclusion.
Fisher is a big advocate for the inclusion of students with various clubs, student unions, and more. While the commuter council was a big step in the right direction, it’s clear that we still have a ways to go with finding ways to include commuter students.
“I felt a little bit left out,” one commuter, who has asked to remain anonymous, admitted, coming onto campus with no roommate and having a hard time making friends. They suggested that the school should, “make things more accessible to students who don’t live on campus.”
This commuter said that they wanted to be able to do things outside of the Commuter Council. “Some meeting times are too inconvenient for commuters to get to, leaving us to feel like outsiders because we aren’t involved as much.” They also suggested having a commuter shuttle to take students to off-campus events during the week, since most commuters aren’t here on the weekends.
I also asked a few residents what they thought was an issue for commuters. They each gave some variation of not having a place to call their own, not having places to hang out between classes, etc.
“It’s hard to feel included when you feel like you aren’t given a space to be. And while there may be neutral spots on campus like the library or one of the cafes, you can’t help but feel a bit isolated when you’re limited to only a few, often crowded spaces.” So how can Fisher help the commuters feel that inclusion they preach about so much?
As Career and Academic Planning Advisor Dr. Jen Pluretti put it, there’s a connection that comes from living in the dorms that commuters don’t really get to experience. So with that in mind, what can we as a community do to bridge the gap between commuters and everyone else? Here’s what some Fisher students have suggested:
- Having a specified commuter lounge with things like a microwave and table space was the most prominent suggestion.
- Planning events while keeping the commuters in mind was also a big one, since a lot of events happen later in the day when most of us are already done with classes.
- For the residents, inviting your commuter friends to hang out in the dorms or go to events with you can go a long way, keeping in mind that many of them have outside obligations and can’t always make it.
- RAs could collaborate with the Commuter Council to make events that work for everyone, not just those who live on campus.
While it may be easier said than done, branching out to make friends with commuters rather than just the people in your residence hall or on your team can make a big difference. These ideas are just a starting point for many of us. But it’s time we open up a real conversation about how we can make commuters feel at home. Feeling a part of the campus community, even when you aren’t on campus 24/7, is so important to commuter students and it takes all of us to make sure that we uphold the value of inclusion here at Fisher.