The Chronicle’s View: Commuter students need to care about U, too

Despite the efforts of administrators to alter the nature of the U, it is still predominantly a commuter campus.

A significant portion of U students live off campus and commute to school daily. A smaller, but also significant, portion look forward to more than one hour of commute every day.

Commuter students have a much more difficult time becoming involved in U events, as they spend much less time on campus. Compound that difficulty with a part-time or full-time job-something many U students juggle-and there just seems to be too little time in the day to care about the U.

This poses a serious problem.

Research has indicated that involvement in campus activities is beneficial to nearly every aspect of a well rounded college education. Students who have a hand in campus events and their planning and execution have, logically, a greater vested interest in their school.

An inability to assimilate and become a part of one’s university can be detrimental to the development of leadership skills, local cultural awareness and often promotes scholastic apathy in students.

It is about time the U embraced its commuter mentality.

Admittedly, the U is not Brigham Young University. In fact, the U is very, very much different from the Y. Good. Fine. The U is an independent entity, and though BYU fans have been touted as rabid and boisterous, it is myopic to assume that the same type of enthusiasm cannot be generated on the U campus.

While Provo is more of a college-centric city than Salt Lake City-being so much smaller than SLC plays a part in that, as does the fact that the predominant faith of its residents just so happens to be that of the university-Salt Lake residents have just as many reasons to be proud of the U.

The U’s football team is earning legitimacy points on a weekly basis, thanks in large part to head coach Urban Meyer’s re-evaluation of the team’s dynamic. The U’s on-campus events, like Crimson Nights, have been wildly successful, despite the U’s commuter-campus nature. The U’s research facilities are new, expensive and impeccable.

The U is an impressive school and can only get better with the inclusion of commuter students into the on-campus event equation.

U officials need to start accommodating commuter students by planning activities during the hours when more students are on campus.

If U administrators and program coordinators are serious about increasing student enthusiasm and attendance at events, they should make a move to embrace the U’s unique commuter/non-commuter student blend, rather than alter it.