Commuter students miss activities

For some U commuter students, the tedious daily drive to and from school that rarely even crosses the minds of on-campus students is a way of life.

Battling rush-hour traffic on both ends of the commute, finding parking, dealing with cell phones…the stressor list for commuter students is long and is more than enough to make some students pull out their hair. But, according to one U official, these obnoxious distractions are not the most concerning problem facing U commuter students.

According to Octavio Villalpando, assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy, the benefits of social activities for college students cannot be overstated.

“Most research that is out there reaches a consensus that being involved is good for you,” Villalpando said.

Recent research seems to point to the fact that the most beneficial type of student involvement is taking on leadership positions within various organizations on campus.

Studies indicate that “students who are involved seem to graduate with greater leadership skills and a greater awareness of many current social issues present in society,” Villalpando explained.

It seems everyone can agree that being socially active in college can positively impact students’ academic path as well as your emotional well-being. But, according to Villalpando, the problem comes in when nontraditional students, which often include commuter students, are not thought of when events are planned and social gatherings are implemented.

“Nearly half of the students in urban area universities commute to college. Typical college students are now older, have more work obligations and have to travel a farther distance to get to school. In fact, the original 18- to 22-year-old traditional student really no longer exists in larger institutions such as the U,” Villalpando said. Besides distance, another factor that contributes to a student not being able to participate in campus activities is the social class that the student belongs to, Villalpando explained.

The students who do not need to work to pay for college seem to have more time on their hands to go out and party, while those students whose parents are not providing them with a cash supply must often rely on a full-time job to keep afloat.

Rebecca Vogel, a senior studying ballet, commutes a total of about two hours a day to and from the U. This poses a real difficulty for Vogel to attend campus events.

“I live too far away and I don’t want to wait around [for an event to start],” Vogel explains. She also has had experience living in the dorms, and admits that she was much more socially active than she is right now.

Sue Gungur, a sophomore majoring in organic biology, lives a few blocks away from campus, but says that if more events would take place during the day, she would be more willing to attend.

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