Jourdan Duncan – Staff Writer –
Junior public health major Monique Beason said as the commuter programming board representative of Programs Council, she can also be known as the voice of the PB&J Thursdays each week outside the Bagelwagon in Engleman hall.
“I program events for commuters—like PB&J Thursdays is a commuter event,” Beason said. “We know that commuters spend a lot of money on gas and tuition and so here is a time and place where they can get free food. We also try to have clubs and organizations come out to PB&J because being a commuter, if you don’t have to be there you won’t want to be there. If you don’t know if anything is going on, then you’re not going to want to stay on campus because you’re already tired and you just want to go home. So I try to get clubs and organizations to come out and say that even if you’re a commuter you still can get involved in this event. It is just a way for commuters to know that they can get involved…just because you’re not a resident doesn’t mean you can’t get involved with campus life.”
With school spirit, Beason said she has been involved in Programs Council for three years.
“My goal is to get commuters to feel like they are a part of student life and that is the main reason why I put on events, to make them feel appreciated because I know that it’s a hard life commuting back and forth and personally I know when I am tired I can just go back to my dorm room,” Beason said. “They have to stay on campus and sometimes they are just sitting around, bored, not doing anything and drive home. A lot of commuters don’t take part in activities that are on campus and I mainly believe it’s because they don’t think that they have the time or nothing speaks to them, so I feel like if you put it out there, in their faces and say ‘hey, this is a way for you to get involved’ it will grab their attention.”
According to Southern’s 2010-2011 Common Data Set, 68 percent of undergraduates are commuters or live off campus in comparison to the 32 percent that make up residents.
“I would say Southern is a commuter-friendly school because they give out free bus passes for those who need it, they are building more parking lot spaces, and they actually take away residential spacing to give commuters more space. They have a shuttle designated to take commuters to the train station or different lots and there are lockers available just for commuters for free. They have people like me put on programs for commuters to reach out to them. I think the reason why Southern is like that is because they have realized that this school is a commuting school, so they have to accommodate those needs.”
With her books stacked on her lap, waiting for class to start, sophomore pre-dental major Hannah Rector said classes and work take up most of her time as a commuter.
“I know people who went here last year and this year and my friends are always trying to get me involved,” Rector said. “I like to just come here, get through my class, and be able to go home and do my homework and have that time to myself.”
Rector said living on campus is more convenient to get involved; commuting takes more effort.
“I lived on campus last year at my old school, so I feel like commuting is a lot different,” Rector said. “When you live on campus, you are a part of everything and when you live in a dorm with everyone, you get to know people and they get involved in something and it makes you want to. As a commuter, you just go by what you see, like fliers and people walking around. It’s not like you are really getting involved, they are just talking at you.”
Senior anthropology major, Jayme Rudewicz said as a transfer student she noticed the enthusiasm of peers and faculty, the drive for students to get involved, that including commuters such as herself.
“The most important thing to me at Southern is its diversity and how no matter where you’re from or who you are or what you do with your life, you can do something,” Rudewicz said. “There is something here for you no matter what and it is a very student-run school. The students choose what they want to do, what clubs are here, and what activities are put on, they run the activities and the adults and the people that work here guide them along the way.”
While reaching out to other students through her own involvement, Rudewicz said she encountered commuters who weren’t as engaged with student life on campus.
“For two years I was my sorority’s recruitment chair for getting girls on campus to come join us and I think that the biggest thing I saw was people saying ‘well, I’m a commuter so I can’t join.’ Just because you’re a commuter, don’t think you can’t do something. Living on or off campus is not what delegates what you can and cannot do on campus. Don’t be afraid to ask somebody ‘can I join even though I’m a commuter?’”