Before I became a commuter, I assumed that students who commuted didn’t have much of a social life on campus and just came to class and left. In all of my previous semesters at AU, I had only been to the commuter lounge once. Even during my freshman year living in Heinz Hall, where the commuter lounge is located, I never once walked in. In fact, I barely looked in as I walked past it on my way to the laundry. It just seemed like a dark, cold place. And then, my living arrangements changed unexpectedly and, suddenly, I was a commuter—and my whole psyche changed. I felt anxious about traveling to campus for class. I worried that I wouldn’t know anyone and that because I wasn’t spending as much time on campus, I would have a tough time making friends or finding study groups.
But I was wrong.
Commuter life is absolutely what you make it. And when you attend a university like AU, that renovates an entire lounge just so you can relax on break or heat up your food on the go, commuter life doesn’t seem so bad. Recently Arcadia renovated the new commuter lounge, located on the first floor of Heinz Hall, and inaugurated it with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by university President Nicolette DeVille Christensen.
Now, if you’re not part of the 23 percent commuter population, you may be thinking, “What’s the big whoop?” Well, there’s commuter assistant staff and an office to answer any questions or concerns students might have. The renovations also include a new kitchenette equipped with a microwave, refrigerator and sink. There’s also a secluded study area and safe locker storage for personal belongings. Just because it’s called the commuter lounge doesn’t mean non-commuter friends can’t stop by. It’s an open community, but what’s important to remember is that there are also other lounges in case things get too crowded. The commuter lounge is, at the very least, one place where students who don’t live on campus can be comfortable and acquire a sense of belonging.
Commuters are a major part of the student body; there’s a reason why Blackboard gives us a section for commuter life and we have a commuter lounge. But as with any student, we have to make an effort to engage in student life. So, one day I just decided I was going to talk to the very first person who walked in and didn’t have on headphones or a face planted in a phone. That’s when I met Lauren, a second-year student who shared many of my same interests. It showed me that being a commuter doesn’t mean being lonely.
We are Arcadia. If AU can take the initiative to help us commuters feel welcome, then we should take that same initiative to make ourselves be as much a part of the campus as anyone else.