Editorial: Commuter students outnumber residents by almost 2-1, yet they sometimes feel forgotten

The majority of students at the University of La Verne commute to campus, and yet many do not feel included in campus life and struggle keeping a work-life balance.

In the current undergraduate population of 2,326 students, 35% live on campus while 65% commute to school for classes, events and activities.

These commuter students face issues such as struggles integrating into campus life because of insufficient advertising and inaccessible times, and difficulties managing their lives and jobs with scarce options for class times and class format options.

Commuters could have a better chance of integrating into campus life if there were more class options available at various times, and more daytime events geared to all students.

We surveyed a group of commuter students residing everywhere from La Verne to Lake Elsinore, with commute times ranging from two minutes to two hours via public transportation. These students participate in extracurricular activities such as clubs, sports, Greek life and the Campus Activities Board. 

Gavin Eckler, senior social science major from La Verne, holds two jobs in addition to commuting to ULV. He said that campus events and perks for commuter students such as the commuter lounge are not as accessible as they could be.

“I didn’t know they existed,” Eckler said. 

He said he would like to see more class time options so he doesn’t have long breaks between classes, which creates a challenge when it comes to balancing work hours, homework and social lives. 

“It would be nice if a lot of the classes could be closer together or on different days,” Eckler said. “That has been difficult to manage.” 

Many classes across the University are taught by adjunct professors, and many of the adjuncts in professional programs, have day jobs. This means that there are a multitude of night classes that are often difficult for commuters to attend. 

CAB has hosted events in the past to make commuter students feel included in the events on campus; however, these events often occur during class times or times that are otherwise inconvenient to commuters. 

For example, a commuter event was organized with the idea that commuters would be able to enjoy an exclusive day just for them. The Lucky Trails event was at 11 a.m. on March 14 in the University Quad. 

CAB advertised that it would be a commuter-student-only event with car accessory giveaways and more to support commuter students in any way possible. 

From trunk organizers to vehicle registration holders to hand-held vacuums, they said there would be an abundance for commuters to enjoy.

Although the idea was great for commuters, all that was advertised was not available for students. CAB also did not ensure that only commuters were in attendance.

Halfway through the event, all of the La Verne swag and car accessories were gone, and there was confusion about whether the raffles had taken place; the only treat they didn’t run out of midway was funnel cakes.

On behalf of commuter students, following are some of our suggestions.

First, there should be more morning and midday class options available for students, as too many classes are offered during evening hours only. These are particularly hard for commuters given traffic and other realities of Southern California.

Evening-only classes should add a Zoom or hybrid “HyFlex” option, so those students who live far away can choose not to commute as needed. As we understand it, some classrooms on campus are equipped with HyFlex technology. It should be fully utilized.

This change could reduce the commute time taken out of students’ schedules and allow them to have more time for their personal lives, homework and work.

Second, smaller and more regular events would help create a more inclusive environment for commuter students. It is discouraging when events designed to create a space that is cheery and full of spirit are only during times that are convenient for students who live on campus. Creating more events that are more accessible to all students will help create a more harmonious campus. 

We even suggest that the community hour – the midday time Monday and Wednesday when no classes are scheduled – be extended to include Tuesdays and Thursdays. This would allow commuter students to potentially attend more events at a more workable time. 

Finally, we believe that commuter-friendly resources and events need to be better advertised, as many students do not know about them. Of those we surveyed, 85 % of commuter students were unaware that the commuter lounge existed.  This should obviously be better promoted so commuter students know they have a space that is theirs. 

For events, the University should have one central calendar that lists all events open to the community – perhaps in an easy-to-find place, or link, on the University website. And why not create a web space just for commuter students as well. 

While the efforts made to include commuters are appreciated and recognized, we believe that since commuters represent such a large portion of the student body, more support to help us balance our lives is necessary. 

It is vital to remember who makes up the ULV student population, that commuter students outnumber residents by nearly two-to-one. 

Let’s all do our best to ensure that each student, regardless of where they live, is able to manage their lives along with school and be an active part of the University, too.

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