MEGAN COURTNEY | Culture Editor
When I transferred to Lindenwood in the fall of 2016, I knew my time on campus would be short, so I decided to commute.
During my campus tour, no mention was made about any special programs offered to commuter students, and I noticed that no places like lounges or study spaces were dedicated to commuters either.
No lockers are available if students want to store something or bring lunch from home.
Some classes require multiple books, and taking 18 credit hours can result in a very heavy backpack. Who would want to lug that around all day? Commuters who forget a book at home are out of luck, too, if they live a good distance from campus or don’t drive, like me.
Having a locker would solve both of these problems: commuters could leave books and other personal items in them so they’d always have them, and they wouldn’t break their backs from carrying all that weight around.
Saint Louis University offers lockers to commuter students on a first-come-first-served basis. According to SLU’s Freshman Commuter web page, you must bring your own lock and sign a new agreement each semester.
In addition, a commuter lounge at SLU can be used to study, eat, connect with other commuter students and use the commuter assistants, who are available to help and also coordinate events just for commuters.
SLU also hosts a Fall Welcome for freshman commuter students and has events like Commuter Orientation, Freshman Commuter Student Meet and Greet and a Freshman Year Student Cookout.
Webster University offers a commuter lounge that opened in the fall of 2010. In this lounge, students have the opportunity to meet other commuters and get information. Students also have access to a refrigerator, a microwave, a television, Wi-Fi, day-use lockers and even a patio to sit outside.
When I first came to campus, I only knew a few people I went to high school with, so I felt lonely, and I wasn’t sure if I had made the best choice. Having an orientation event specifically for commuter students would have benefited me greatly by allowing me to learn more about the campus and make some friends who were in the same situation I’m in.
Brand new this semester, Lindenwood commuter students have a space dedicated to them.
Housed on the third floor of the Evans Commons, the commuter lounge is a space for commuter students to go hang out before class, eat lunch, do homework and have a place to go on campus if they are waiting to be picked up.
The lounge has couches, tables, a television, a microwave and a small refrigerator if students have lunch they need to heat up or store cold food items.
It’s definitely a start in making commuters feel more welcome on campus, but Evans is across campus away from most classes and Spellmann, so I haven’t gotten the chance to go over there much because it’s out of my way.
I think that moving the lounge to a place that’s more in the center of campus, like Spellmann, would benefit myself and others greatly because it’s in the middle of the campus and a short walk from dorms, academic buildings and the cafeteria if someone needed to buy lunch.
Having somewhere to plug in your phone and laptop would be ideal, but what would be even better is lockers for a safe place to store books, supplies and big class projects like posters or artwork.
We have to start somewhere, and this is a good one, but there are things to be done that could make this lounge even better.
Last spring, I learned that dining plans were available to commuter students and was going to purchase one, but they are too expensive for what is offered.
According to Lindenwood’s website, the Commuter 50 meal plan offers 50 meals and 25 Dining Dollars per semester. The cost of this plan is $400. The second plan, the Commuter 25, offers 25 meals and 25 Dining Dollars for $225.
I was shocked by how few meals were offered per semester. I get that the average cost of a meal is around $10 per person and that’s where the cost probably came in, but only 25 Dining Dollars? If you purchased a soda from the Lion’s Pride Market every day, that would be gone in about two weeks.
I usually eat lunch on campus, but sometimes I have to stay late and end up getting dinner too. With the Commuter 25 meal plan, that would be gone in less than two weeks, and with the Commuter 50, it would be gone in approximately five weeks.
Because I would use the meals in a short period of time, I don’t see the point in spending an extra $225 or $400 when I can just purchase one meal whenever I feel it’s necessary.
Webster University began a meal plan for commuter students in the fall of 2017 for all full-time undergraduate commuters and students who are living in campus apartments that are attending the main campus. Students receive $100 at no additional charge, and it is loaded on their student ID at the beginning of the semester.
The meal plan, which came as a result of Webster’s contract with Sodexo Foods, allows students to purchase food tax-free at any Sodexo facility on campus. It cannot be used at vending machines or the bookstore.
Any amount that is left over in the fall can be rolled over to the spring semester, but money that is not used by the end of the academic year will be forfeited, according to Webster’s website.
Commuter students can purchase meal plans through their student portal.
Now, commuters will hopefully have more of a voice on campus.
Rachel Tolliver, former Student Involvement Coordinator, said last semester that there is a Commuter Student Senator serving on the Lindenwood Student Government.
“This person will serve as a voice for commuter students and hopefully be able to bring commuter student issues to the rest of the body,” she said.
Also beginning last semester, Commuter Student Appreciation Week is a week dedicated to commuter students that offers freebies like breakfast, lunch, coffee, t-shirts, mugs and a chance to socialize with other commuters.
At special commuter events held during the appreciation week (Sept 17-21), commuter students also have a chance to meet the new Student Involvement Coordinator, Rachael Heuermann and give her their feedback on the week while also giving her new ideas for what they would like to see on campus.
In addition, a Commuter Coffee event is being held every month in the commuter lounge and will have free coffee and food.
I love being a Lindenwood Lion. Since coming here, I’ve made many friends, and found a place that feels like home and gives me a sense of belonging.
With the new appreciation week, lounge and a Commuter Student Senator, I feel that more benefits will be added for commuters. It’s a step in the right direction.