New commuter lounge gives students a place to relax

At the end of the 2020-2021 academic year, it was announced that a new and refurbished commuter lounge was in the works. The plan was for it to be ready before the 2021-2022 school year. The commuters were given a bigger and better place in Bartlett Hall, where they could unwind and relax for the time they were on campus. The new commuter lounge is located on the second floor of Bartlett in room 201. 

Four commuter representatives, Zoey Higgs, Yoshua Martinez, John Martinez and Allie Osorio, also a representative of the non-traditional group, gladly spoke about the lounge and what plans they hope to achieve to make commuters more comfortable on campus.

Yoshua Martinez explained that the commuter lounge was a “safe haven” for commuter students, saying that non-traditional students needed a place, not necessarily to study, but to relax and unwind from the school day and classes. He noted that some commuters don’t have the luxury of living fifteen or ten minutes away from campus, emphasizing that the commuter lounge is crucial. Osorio expressed that commuters are already limited to certain things because they don’t physically live on campus.

 Osorio also mentioned that the purpose of the lounge is for non-traditional students to feel at home. Higgs stated that just like residential halls have a lounge, the commuters now have one, too.

John Martinez said he spends about six to ten hours per week in the lounge, something to which all four students agreed. They all believe that the lounge sets itself apart from any seminar or study room on campus because it’s like home. They brought up that as commuters, they must be on campus between classes for extended periods, so having a reserved space for commuter students is very appreciable. 

 (Left to right) Dayana Melgarejo, John Martinez and Jose Contreras occupy the commuters lounge on a Friday afternoon.
Photo by Katie Leming.

Osorio expressed her gratitude to the Student Programming Board (SPB), saying they donated some snacks and other things for commuters. She expressed that while the lounge already has some furniture, she wants to improve the lounge more.

During this conversation, one question that arose was what the next steps or plans for the lounge and commuters would be.

Higgs said that they plan to add more tables, chairs and things that commuters need in the lounge. She further explained that the plan is to advocate and prepare for a better commuter lounge in the future. Higgs also mentioned that they would be working alongside Brad Ward, Assistant Director for Student Involvement & Leadership Development, to develop realistic plans to improve the lounge. 

Both Osorio and Higgs said that in the future, they plan to talk or survey commuter students to hear first-hand what commuters need or would like to see in the lounge. They mentioned that though the lounge has necessities, for example, sofas, coffee tables, a refrigerator, a microwave, etc., there is room for improvement. She mentioned that with COVID-19 last year, conversations like these were hard to carry with the college administration because of the restrictions. This being the case, they are all excited to advocate and project the needs of all commuters and non-traditional students on campus.

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