Commuter Students Get Involved on Campus

Office of First Year Programs Offers Resources and Activities to Keep Commuters Connected

Though commuter students inevitably spend less time here than residential ones, they make up a significant part of the Marist campus. By providing resources to them, such as activities, trips and mentoring, Marist works to disprove the typical idea that commuters are less involved within a student body. "We try hard to dispel those rumors right away," said Colin Mccann, the Associate Director of First Year Programs and the mentor for commuter students.

Mccann is the primary contact for commuters when they first come to college and aids them through the office of first-year programs. In the same way that freshman coordinators communicate and set up programs for first-year students, Mccann is involved with commuters.

As the commuter student mentor, Mccann advises the commuter student council, which is another valuable resource for the commuter population. This group is not specific to a single class year like other residence hall councils--it advocates for all undergraduate commuters. Mccann helps them to schedule social and academic programs, as the council works to create a thriving community among the commuter population.

Outside of the commuter student council, other clubs on campus make a point to consider commuter students in their proceedings. "Anytime there is not a commuter voice on different committees, student government would reach out to the commuter population because they want to hear from the commuter students," said Mccann.

Throughout the year, commuter students are invited to attend trips and activities that take them off campus as a group. "I really like to appreciate the surrounding area," said Mccann. "The commuter students live in the surrounding area, so we like to get out there and explore a little." For example, they have collaborated with other groups on campus to take trips to the Walkway Over the Hudson, apple orchards and even to travel into New York City. Additionally, every Spring, they organize a commuter outing to climb Mount Beacon.

On campus, the commuter student community has a special lounge below the student center, that many use during their down time. This space, complete with couches and television monitors, is not a designated commuter lounge but is treated as such.

"This is their space," explained Mccann. "A lot of the commuter students hang out there, play video games, eat together, study together." Between the commuters and other members of the student body, it tends to be very active and an easy way to integrate with campus residents.

Like any student, commuters have access to on-campus jobs, which can serve as an opportunity to get more involved with the school. "I think that is a good way for the commuter students to be connected to the campus," Mccann said. It is convenient for commuters to keep these jobs because, unlike a lot of residential students, they live so close to campus year-round. During breaks and between semesters, students are in a close enough proximity to continue to work while other students return home.

In addition to on-campus jobs, Marist provides a certain amount of financial grants to make tuition more affordable for commuters. "There is a grant or scholarship to commuter students that is made available to them," explained Mccann, "so people that commute are given a financial boost."

Like any transition into college life, enrolling as a commuter comes with its challenges. However, these challenges are not unlike those faced by traditional students living on Marist campus. Depending on the student, individuals may have trouble with social acclimation or academic preparedness, but in any situation, commuters have access to all of the same resources as those that live on campus.

With so many resources available and opportunities to get involved, it is up to the commuter students to take advantage of them. "You have to be really proactive in reaching out and making those connections in getting invested in the college," said Mccann, as a final piece of advice to his commuter mentees. "I think they should really see that they are surrounded by opportunities to connect with the college and they really should take the step to get connected, instead of waiting for it to come to them," he concludes.

As of now, most commuters are not able to move on campus once they have withdrawn from student housing. This is due to the high demand for on-campus housing at Marist. However, with the ongoing construction of new residence halls on the North side of campus, the hope is that space will be made available for commuters looking to become residential.

Written by Sarah Gabrielli '18

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