Commuting at Marian

Sarah Storm, Senior Editor

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From the moment I set foot in my cousin’s dorm room at the University of Michigan when I was around 13 years old, I knew I never wanted to live in such close quarters. Five years later, there I was moving into my dormitory at Marian University. For two and a half years, I lived on campus before deciding that commuting would be a better option.

 

I’m not alone. Just over a third of MU students commute. But what are the pros and cons? How do students who commute engage in campus life? What would improve the commuter experience? These are questions for everyone.      

 

During the fall of my junior year, I determined that I wanted to move out by the end of the semester. I had originally planned on commuting from home for my senior year, but I was experiencing some mental health issues and struggled with being on campus all the time. Although commuting has its drawbacks, they are far outweighed by the benefits.

 

Since I have experience living on campus, there are a few things I miss about it. The main aspect I miss is not having to drive to school every day and during rush hour. When living in the dorms, all I had to do was get ready and walk to class. Now, I have to get ready, make sure my lunch is put together, and leave about 40 minutes before my first class starts. I also have to worry about finding a parking spot once I arrive, which proves to be challenging depending on the day and time. Lastly, I have to plan my day around my class and work schedule. If I have a gap between my classes, I do not have the option to go back to my room and relax or take a nap. Due to this, I oftentimes cannot make it to certain events occurring on campus. I do not feel like I miss out on too much, but there definitely have been times where I would rather just head home than sit around for hours waiting for something to start.

 

As stated earlier, I have found more benefits from commuting rather than living on campus. My favorite parts are being around my family every day and having a separate environment from the school setting. Although it was convenient to have my classes and “home” together with dorm living, I found it more difficult to wind down for the day and approach my studies seriously. With commuting, I am almost forced to prioritize assignments and tasks, which helps me with time management and stress levels. Living at home has also improved my mental health in many ways, as I feel more comfortable managing my responsibilities as both a full-time student and young adult.  

 

Given my experiences, I was interested in hearing those of other commuters. I asked five students a series of the same questions, and their responses are below:  

 

Taylor Trepanier ’19, Marketing

 

  • What is your favorite part about commuting?

-At home, I have really good food, can do laundry, and get to see my dog and siblings every day.

 

  • Least favorite?

-I lose basically an hour of studying every day, have to pay for gas, and my parents ask me where I am often.

 

  • What is a struggle you’ve had to face through commuting (can be once or reoccurring)?

-The lack of independence that does not really make me feel like an adult. There are also not enough microwaves on campus.

 

  • Do you feel that you’re at an advantage or disadvantage or a bit of both?

-Hasn’t been completely good or completely bad; don’t feel like I’m at a disadvantage academically

 

  • Do you feel like you miss out on opportunities?

-I miss out on the clubs that meet on weekends or after 10. I also don’t learn how to deal with living with people who may be difficult.

 

  • Do you think Marian has enough parking? If not, what would your suggestion be to amend this problem?

-No, I think they need a parking garage. It would not take up too much space and would allow 4-5 times as much parking as we have now.

 

Brandilyn Worrell ’19, English

 

  • What is your favorite part about commuting?

-It gives me the freedom to get off campus and take a step back from classes. I also enjoy having my own space.

 

  • Least favorite?

-Parking

 

  • What is a struggle you’ve had to face through commuting (can be once or reoccurring)?

-Having to carry all my stuff with me all the time.

 

  • Do you feel that you’re at an advantage or disadvantage or a bit of both?

-A bit of both. Mostly an advantage because it’s cheaper and allows for a strong home life.

 

  • Do you feel like you miss out on opportunities?

-Yes. I have to head home before some events start or finish. I am not engaged with a ton of things on campus and have to be selective about what I do.

 

  • Do you think Marian has enough parking? If not, what would your suggestion be to amend this problem?

-Three things: a parking garage, not allowing freshmen to have a car on campus, and having residents park in the gravel lot since they don’t use their cars as much.

 

Alasdair Reese ’22, Communication

 

  • What is your favorite part about commuting?

-Not having to be tied down to one place; easy transportation

 

  • Least favorite?

-Not as connected to people; harder to make friends

 

  • What is a struggle you’ve had to face through commuting (can be once or reoccurring)?

-Having to get up earlier for classes

 

  • Do you feel that you’re at an advantage or disadvantage or a bit of both?

-Disadvantage because it’s easier for me to get caught up in other things. It is also more difficult to find people to study with since I’m not in the educational setting.

 

  • Do you feel like you miss out on opportunities?

-Yes. There are many times where there has been an event that occurs that I didn’t know about because I don’t pass by the flyers as often as others.

 

  • Do you think Marian has enough parking? If not, what would your suggestion be to amend this problem?

-It’s gotten better but is still not great. I think the lot by the apartments should not solely be for apartment residents because there are often open spots there.

 

Jaz Richardson ’21, Communication

 

  • What is your favorite part about commuting?

-Not feeling like I have to live at school

 

  • Least favorite?

-Having to drive to school and find parking

 

  • What is a struggle you’ve had to face through commuting (can be once or reoccurring)?

-Never too informed about what’s going on at campus; not integrated

 

  • Do you feel that you’re at an advantage or disadvantage or a bit of both?

-Disadvantage due to not being informed. I am also late a lot.  

 

  • Do you feel like you miss out on opportunities?

-Yes

  • Do you think Marian has enough parking? If not, what would your suggestion be to amend this problem?

-No. I think a parking garage should be built.

 

Lucy Wahnsiedler, ’22, Communication

 

  • What is your favorite part about commuting?

-My favorite part about commuting to Marian is that I am easily able to balance my social life and my studies. I have the option of choosing when to be on campus and socialize, as well as the option of heading home when I need to study without distractions.

 

  • Least favorite?

-My least favorite part about commuting has been having to wake up an hour earlier to allow for rush hour traffic.

 

  • What is a struggle you’ve had to face through commuting (can be once or reoccurring)?

-Parking is the largest struggle I have had to face as a commuting student. This issue has caused me to be late to class several times.

 

  • As a commuter, do you feel that you’re at an advantage or disadvantage or a bit of both?

-With my personal circumstance and personality, I definitely feel that I am at an advantage as a commuter. I love being able to have a college lifestyle, but also have the comforts of home.

 

  • Do you feel like you miss out on opportunities because you’re a commuter?

-I do not necessarily feel like I “miss out,” but as a commuter, I do feel like I am more selective about my involvement on campus if an event is held or a club meets late at night.

 

  • Do you think Marian has enough parking? If not, what would your suggestion be to amend this problem?

-I do not think that Marian has enough parking. One thing that baffles me about the parking situation is that there always seems to be “fuel-efficient” vehicle parking spots open, but, since I have my parents’ old non-fuel-efficient vehicle, I have to drive around campus, often for 20 minutes, trying to find parking. Personally, I do not feel safe walking across 30th street to campus, especially at night, so I feel that adding parking across the street is not a true solution to the problem. I do think that if parking replaces the baseball field, as President Elsener mentioned in his State of the University Address, it would greatly improve the parking situation.

 

Overall, commuters at Marian University have similar struggles and enjoyments. Each has solutions for certain issues on campus such as parking. Through interviewing several students, I was able to meet new commuters and compare and contrast my experiences to theirs. Since commuters make up a significant portion of the student body, it is important that their needs are being addressed and their voices are being heard.