Courtesy of Julia Thompson
As the new semester begins and I get back into the habit of leaving my Appleton residence at 7 o’clock each morning, I’d like to steer the campus’ attention to an often forgotten group of students: commuters.
Currently at UW Oshkosh, only 15% of first- and second-year students choose not to live in the residence halls. I believe that these students should be able to get just as much out of their college experience as students living on campus.
To achieve this, the university needs to make adjustments to be more accessible and welcoming to commuters.
But what truly defines the “college experience?” It’s simply the opportunity to take classes and meet new people while utilizing academic resources and participating in on-campus extracurriculars to become the independent and well-rounded individual that you’re meant to be.
As a commuter, it is common to miss out on social events and academic opportunities in exchange for the ability to live at home and graduate with less debt. However, I believe this opportunity cost of commuting only takes effect because students are lacking the necessary support and resources.
UWO can invest in resources to increase the campus’ accessibility to commuters and help improve their social and academic success.
A few suggestions come to mind, requiring minimal (if any) investment:
First: club meetings, Reeve Union Board events and intramural leagues should be held earlier in the day or several times throughout the day to facilitate commuter involvement.
Second: increased variability in tutor hours and Supplemental Instruction sessions would provide commuters greater access to academic support. Most of my courses have only offered these services during the late afternoon or early evening when many commuters are heading home for the day to work or attend to other responsibilities.
Finally, lockers and lounges should be installed in all campus buildings instead of just Reeve and Polk Library to allow commuters to make use of the entire campus. This will not only provide convenient and accessible spaces for commuters to store their items and prepare meals but also provide welcoming spaces for socialization, similar to the cafeteria experience that on-campus students enjoy.
The opportunity cost of commuting can easily be reduced by implementing these ideas. A few strategic changes around campus are all we need to pave the highway to commuter success.
Such changes would provide commuters with increased opportunities to become more involved on campus, build relationships with peers, utilize more academic services and truly embrace the “college experience.”