It was just another day of strolling through the corridors of University Hall. While waiting for the elevator to arrive to the 3rd floor, I couldn’t help but notice something interesting on the nearby map of the U-Hall corridors. Apparently, we had a commuter lounge somewhere in this building. Being a commuter throughout entire my college experience, I thought it was odd that I had never heard about this area before. Curious, I decided to go check it out. I arrived to the designated spot and read the words “Reading Room” across the door. Of course, I was very familiar with this room, having been “shh-ed” there several times while trying to work on school projects (usually with my fellow commuter students). Why would the university advertise this space as a commuter room on the map even though its sole purpose was to be a quiet study space for students? Furthermore, why don’t we have a spot especially for the commuter students on campus? By adding a commuter lounge to the Lesley campus, commuter students can better immerse themselves into the Lesley community.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many opportunities for commuter students to get involved on the Lesley campus. As Co-President of LU Radio, and a reporter for the Lesley Public Post, I know from experience that many clubs and organizations do their best to incorporate commuter schedules. However, despite these accommodations, it can still be difficult for some commuters to integrate themselves into the community. Many of us have to adjust our free time around train schedules, work hours, homework, and family obligations. Consequently, we sometimes cannot attend many of the Lesley events that happen on campus, especially the programs that take place late at night. According to Libna Ramos, a former commuter, “I do have difficulty immersing myself into the Lesley community. Mostly because the meetings for certain clubs would be late in the evening, like Lesley Delivers. I would love to do that but they meet Tuesday evenings to go deliver food and for me as a commuter student was difficult to do. It is already exhausting being at school all day long but it’s also hard for the meeting being so late.” Unlike resident students, we do not have as many chances to meet new people, join interesting clubs, or see exciting shows. I mean, I have been here for three years and still haven’t had the chance to try Bingo!
Another way people meet each other on campus is through resident life. Students can connect to each other through many of the activities that take place within the hallowed sanctuaries of the residence halls. As commuter students, we do not have that option. True, we can meet met others through our classes, but we cannot form “residence hall bonds” during classes that take place a couple of days a week. Alisan LeMay, a senior who lived on campus during her first two years at Lesley, compared her residential and commuting experiences. “Living on campus you’re never really alone,” she explains. “There’s always people around and stuff going on. When you’re a commuter you have to actively try to be a part of what’s going on at the university as opposed to when living on campus you just find yourself a part of it.” Since all Lesley students come from different areas and have various schedules, it can be very difficult to find a place or time where we can truly take the time to get to know each other.
How can we make commuters feel more a part of Lesley? I think one of the most beneficial ways to make a commuter feel welcomed is to give them a place to call their own. By having a commuter lounge, commuters have a better chance of building strong connections with their peers. It can be a safe haven where we can all come together to meet new people and vent about our problems with the MBTA. Furthermore, we can team up with the Commuter Student Organization and make fun events for commuters and residents to come together during the day and get to mingle with new people between classes. “A lounge would certainly be beneficial to commuter students,” says Lesley Public Post Editor-in-Chief and fellow commuter, Harrison Ford, when asked his opinion on the subject via email. “Many of my commuter friends essentially use the Information Commons as a lounge, so having designated room would make sense. It would also allow these students to build a community with one another.”
In addition to being a potential social hub, a commuter lounge will also give commuters a place to unwind and relax. It is true that the university does have places for us to store our belongings and watch television; however, the problem is that these resources are scattered throughout the different campuses (i.e. lockers are at U-Hall, public televisions are at Doble, etc.). It would be a big improvement if we can have one place where these items can all be easily accessible to students. It would also be the ideal place for weary students to take a little snooze between courses (especially since the quiet study rooms can get a bit crowded throughout the day).
Our college years are supposedly the best years of our lives. Many of my fellow commuters have been able to find their niche here at Lesley through many means. Sadly, not everyone is always that lucky. We must find ways to better integrate commuters so everyone can find their place in the Lesley community. I hope that we can someday find a place for commuters to call their own