SCSU has launched the Commuter Connector program in an attempt to get commuter students more involved and continue to enrich the Southern community.
Walking around campus, there are now 24 community leaders that serve as a connection for commuter students, according to Dawn Stanton-Holmes the assistant director of Student Life and university-wide programming.
The commuter connectors are commuter students themselves who are already involved with the SCSU community in some way. They are now available to help with any issues involving commuters and to establish an informal communication to inform them of events happening, on campus, said Holmes.
“It’s warm contact,” she said, “students can text or email their C.C. to ask questions.”
This program is part of a university initiative to better the experience of commuters. According to junior Matt Earl, who is also the founder of the programs, the intention is to make commuter students more aware of events and create a greater sense of community.
“I have been a commuter for three years now. I know how hard it is for commuters to get involved, not
even wanting to get involved and not knowing what is going on, on campus,” said Earl, who is also general manager of SCSU T.V., an orientation ambassador and INQ peer mentor.
The money students pay for tuition, commuters and residents alike, includes a student activities fee, according to the bursar’s page on Southern’s website.
“Not knowing about the events and not participating, is almost like wasting your money,” said Earl.
Alexandria Nogas, a sophomore and one of the Commuter Connectors, said she volunteered for the program through her sorority because when she was a commuter herself her freshman year she realized how awkward it was to get involved and get to know people.
“We want to make commuter students feel comfortable,” she said, “for them to not see [SCSU] just as school anymore, but somewhere they like to be.”
She also said she thinks the program has had a good effect on everybody because it brings students a lot closer.
Brian Pedalino, a junior and board of finance chair for the Student Government Association, is a commuter and said there are a lot of commuter students who do not know what is happening on campus, an important issue given the fact that commuters make up two-thirds of the school population.
“That is a big issue for us as Student Government, we have to change that. We are working on it,” he said.
According to the information provided on Southern’s website, 68 percent of students live off campus or commute.
The university is taking several steps to engage commuters. An informational flier lists some events that have been and will be taking place at SCSU this fall semester, including:
Good Morning Southern, an event where students were given free coffee and breakfast snacks in lots seven and eight, took place September 13 and 14.
Good Afternoon Southern, will take place in the afternoon in the same lots on the first Monday and Tuesday of October and November.
“P & J Thursdays” will be held every Thursday starting September 9th in Engleman room B 121. Students will get free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches while interacting with other commuter students and community leaders.
The flier can be found at the Commuter Student Services office, located in the Adanti Student Center in room 212.
“In the past we have made assumptions that doing commuter friendly programs meant doing it during the day, and doing it here at the student center,” Holmes said, “and that is not necessarily where you will find a large number of commuter students. We though we would reach a broader base of students if we moved to the parking lot and I think that worked well.”
The main target of the program is freshmen and transfer students because they still haven’t adapted to the SCSU existing dynamic, Earl said, but several steps are being taken to end the “angry commuter era,” he said. According to him,
“This is a commuter school after all.”