Exploring the Realities of Marian Commuters
February 10, 2020
When I came to Marian University, I did not see myself living off-campus because I wanted the full college experience. However, after living off-campus for one year and paying $10,000 to live five minutes away from home, it felt silly that I did not just live at home and save money. Starting sophomore year, I lived at home and embraced the commuter lifestyle. Being a commuter here on campus, it sometimes feels like there are several issues or times when commuters are treated differently. For example, several commuters said they had to pay for the Thanksgiving dinner when it was supposed to be a free event for all students. In addition, more often than not the commuter spots are the ones most often used during events, leaving commuters with no place to park.
Marian students have differing opinions about the commuter experience. Some lived on campus and then became commuters, while others have commuted throughout their whole college experience. All of the students come from different years, ranging from their sophomore year in college to being seniors about to graduate after this semester.
One of the biggest problems shared among commuters is parking. Maura Domogalik, a senior psychology major, said “I live 20 mins away and have to keep in mind there could be a traffic jam or crash that I have to take that into account. In addition, you have to plan and make sure to pack everything and can’t run late.” She goes on to say, “Parking is better than what it used to be but still not fantastic. I feel like I have to get here an hour before class to get a decent spot, even then that’s pushing it.”
Harpreet Sandhu, a sophomore marketing major, has similar ideas to Domogalik when she said, “If I’m late on campus there is no parking. For me being ‘late’ is 10 am. I have to be here by 8 or 9ish to actually get a decent spot or a spot in general.”
In addition to having to leave early to find a spot, a common theme among the students is paying a hefty fee only to not receive a spot, or have it taken for event parking.
Domogalik said, “It’s awful when they block things off for event parking. We pay 200 plus dollars a semester for parking and they take the main parking for their events, which they don’t even tell us about sometimes.”
Finally, the biggest problem the students, especially the female ones had about parking on campus regarded parking across the street in the lot next to the gas station.
Lucy Wahnsiedler, a sophomore majoring in communication, said, “I don’t feel comfortable parking across the road next to the gas station. Especially early in the morning or late at night because I am a female who is alone and usually not walking to my car with a group of people and the gas station next to the lot is a crime hub. I don’t feel comfortable walking across the street and parking there and my parents don’t either. I know there is a police box to contact someone if I am in danger, but it still makes me uncomfortable.”
Domogalik agreed with Wahnsiedler. She said, “They want us to park across the street and it’s extremely unsafe aka the gas station right next to it.”
Sandhu also expressed her concerns about the parking lot when she said, “I paid two hundred dollars and don’t want to have to cross the street. It’s not safe”
Besides parking, Alumni getting taken over also frustrated commuters. The takeover usually leaves students without a place to sit.
Domogalik said, “They need to stop taking Alumni over. It’s the only place commuters can sit and be comfortable with friends. If faculty and other people keep taking it over commuters don’t have a place to sit.”
Sandhu agreed and stated that alternatives were lacking: “When Alumni is taken, we don’t have anywhere else to sit and talk. The library is too quiet. And now are spots get taken because Starbucks is usually full and Alumni is taken up by some event going on.”
On the other hand, while Wahnsiedler did not have a problem with Alumni being used personally, she thought it was unfair to other students who sit there frequently.
She said, “I don’t think it’s fair to students if there is an event in Alumni because so many people use Alumni. In my personal experience, it has never been a problem because I am involved in a lot of things off-campus. I like the study rooms in Norman to study on my own. If I want to socialize, I go to Alumni but if not I usually avoid it. It is not a place in which I frequent.”
The last problem that the commuters had regarded the notion that the student events were geared toward students living on-campus and that the events themselves did not fit well with the commuters’ schedules. The main event that most commuters seem to be able to go to is the commuter coffee events.
Wahnsiedler, who is also a Commuter Representative for the Campus Ministry Council part of Campus Ministry, said, “Something we are doing specifically for commuters is the commuter coffee which we are trying to make happen at least twice a year. The organization does not have socials at the moment but are planning on creating a social media account to keep commuters connected and to inform them of future gatherings.”
While this is a nice event for commuters to be a part of, several commuters have a problem with it simply because they don’t have the time to attend it.
Domogalik said, “I’ve done the commuter coffee event once, and it was fun, but it usually happens at the end of the day when I need to leave or I’m in the middle of class. I think it should be for a longer period of the day that way more commuters get the opportunity to get to go. Usually, it tends to happen at the same time and day so if you aren’t free at that time it’s tough luck. Why not switch it up?”
Sandhu said, “I enjoy the coffee house event, but a lot of people have to leave right after or aren’t able to come at all so I feel like it should change to accommodate more people. I usually have to run and get coffee and then leave right after for my next thing.”
Jamison Hunter, who is a junior mathematics major and physics minor, also spoke about the event and other commuter activities. Regarding those, he spoke about his troubles of actually being able to go to events.
He said, “I’m not involved in any commuter activities. I know there is the commuter coffee event, but I have only been once and it seemed nice so I should go more. I want to do other clubs, but the meeting times are always when I’m going home at around 5ish. If they want to have stuff for commuters make it before 5 pm because it’s hard to get back to campus in time or to stay for hours especially since most commuters are gone by then.”
While the commuters had several issues about being a commuter, they also had many reasons which they enjoyed being a commuter instead of living on campus.
Domogalik said, “I like that I don’t have to pay the cost of living here. I like having a place to go that’s not school if school is stressing me out. I get to enjoy eating real food if I so choose and I enjoy getting to spend time with my cat and family.
In sharing her enjoyment of commuting, she said, “I get to go home a lot and I don’t have to worry about doing laundry and I have more freedom then people who stay on campus and I have a car when some students on campus don’t.
Hunter, who used to live on a different campus before becoming a commuter, said, “I really like the fact that I get to sleep in my own bed, and I get my own bathroom too. I get the place to myself and it’s a place for me just to relax and unwind after school. I did the whole dorm thing at IU and didn’t really enjoy it because it was crowded and noisy and my roommate wasn’t the best.”
In her reflection of being a commuter, Wahnsiedler said, “I don’t have to deal with living in a dorm. I enjoy the freedom of being able to choose to live off-campus. Having gotten food poisoning multiple times, I’m glad to go to several places on campus or just eating at home. I also love the family support and the connection I get to keep with my family and run things by people who really care about me and are removed from the thing happening. “
Every single student is going to have a completely different experience from the next especially depending on if they choose to commute to school or live on campus. Looking at what older students and their experiences being a commuter, I am glad that I made the switch this year to commute. Even though there are several negative aspects about being a commuter, such as not enough parking, Alumni being taken from students for other events and lack of commuter events or these events being planned at a bad time, there are several pluses as well. These include having space away from school, having homecooked meals and being able to spend time with family. As Hunter said, “Everything negative can be made into a positive if you spin it right.”