By: Jenn Tyborski
Conflicting meeting times, a lack of awareness, and safety issues are just a few reasons commuter students say they feel disconnected from on-campus life.
Commuter students make up the majority of the student body at Roosevelt University, but their involvement in student organizations is minimal.
According to information from the Office of Institutional Research, in fall 2012, Roosevelt had 999 students living on-campus out of 4,478 total students, which includes undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students. The rest of the students, about 78 percent, were commuters.
Nick Bacci, a criminal justice major, commutes to the Chicago Campus throughout the week. Bacci said he’s involved with Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), but he does not feel connected to campus life as much as he’d like to be.
Kaitlin Vens, another commuter student, is somewhat involved on campus. This year, she is involved with RU Proud and is planning to become more involved with the Psychology Club. However, since moving off-campus to an apartment with her partner, Vens hasn’t been able to keep up with all the activities she’d like to be involved in.
“Since I have become a commuter student, I have had to cut back on the amount of organizations I can be involved in,” Vens said. “It has definitely been a negative part of living off-campus.”
Like Bacci, Vens takes the CTA to get to school. However, her trip from Andersonville is about 50 minutes to an hour long.
Other than commuting, both students mentioned a lack of information about meeting times and events also contributes to the disconnectedness they feel.
“I used to always know when events were happening on campus, but now it is difficult to even find out what is going on,” Vens said. “The only way I ever hear about anything is through the ‘What’s Up’ email blast that gets sent out once a week.”
Bacci agreed that if he was aware of the events and times student organizations met, he might be interested in becoming more involved.
“If they put more things on the website, did a little more advertising by putting things up on that portal, maybe students that weren’t here and seeing things in the building, they could at least see it on the website,” Bacci said.
Who’s to blame for the feeling of disconnectedness between commuter students and the campus?
According to Vens, it’s a mixture of both the administration and the students.
“I think it is the responsibility of a commuter student to remain involved with the university, but that it is also the responsibility of the university to make sure that events are being advertised and [that they are] time conscious to the commuting lifestyle.”
For Bacci, the blame falls on both parties.
“I think that role definitely falls on both people,” Bacci said. “I think the office can definitely do something a little more and definitely do their part, but as a commuter, I could definitely stick around campus a little longer after classes, and go to the Auditorium Building to hang out on the second floor and see what’s going on. I know they usually have clubs on that level, and on the first floor advertising.”
Sean Noda, also a commuter student, says he isn’t involved much on campus. Although Noda said he had interest in SGA, he never felt any reason to join other groups. For him, it seems that the administration is trying to turn the campus into something it’s not.
“The administration is trying to go towards a more traditional campus,” Noda said. “An urban campus can’t fully be a ‘traditional’ campus with a city environment.”
Noda notes that since Roosevelt has an urban campus, there should be a focus on utilizing the city as well as student organizations to include commuter students.
“[The] route should be working with the city, rather than fully isolated to campus,” said Noda. “Roosevelt should reach out to communities to become a part of the community.”
Bacci added, “I think that a lot of the clubs are aimed a little more at students that are on-campus, or either those are just the students that are finding out more about the clubs. I definitely think they could have a better portal for students to be able to find out about clubs here, and to find out about activities here.”