September kicks off the first normal school year for Cabrini University since the COVID-19 pandemic began. With schedules full of online classes now a thing of the past, the residence halls are full, and so are the parking lots.
Cabrini University is known for its high number of commuters, and now that campus COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, more and more students are coming back to campus and looking for something to do.
Commuter involvement at Cabrini-sponsored events
The first week of the fall semester was filled with events, from orientation to Welcome Week activities. While commuters are always welcome to events on campus advertised to those living in the residence halls, the SEaL, student engagement and leadership office at Cabrini, also holds events specifically for commuter students, even though attendance is at an all-time low.
Leon Crawford, senior co-orientation coordinator, said, “In all honesty, commuters have not been involved at all on campus because of COVID-19, and if you can stay home why not? I know commuter involvement is down and they are going to try new things this year to get commuters even more involved on campus because they are a significantly large portion, so get them involved and campus will be booming.”
SEaL has a master calendar listing all the events and activities happening on campus for students. However, the only event for commuters specifically was held on Thursday, Sept. 1: a commuter social located in the library. As of now, there are no other events planned to strengthen the engagement of commuter students.
“I feel like in general with commuters, unless something really catches their interest they aren’t really going to come to things or get involved,” Rachel Kalani, junior education major, said. “They come, go to their classes, and then go home, especially if they live far away.”
Commuter student lounge
Commuters spend less time on campus than students who live in the residence halls, but while they are on campus where can they go between classes?
Cabrini’s commuter lounge has had many homes. Currently, it is located in the Holy Spirit Library basement and is restricted to library hours, which are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. With its remote location, miscellaneous furniture, and unreliable vending machines, it is no wonder commuter students would rather leave campus after classes and during breaks than stick around.
“Cabrini likes to call themselves a commuter college, and I feel like a student center with a bigger and better commuter lounge rather than just the library basement (a lot of people do not like going down there because it is far removed from most things) could help involvement,” Crawford said. “A lot of people don’t know about it unless they have a class in the basement of the library because they don’t really advertise it.”
A living and learning community for first-year commuters
Cabrini has developed the Cabrini Cruisers, a Living and Learning Community for first-year commuter students. Working alongside designated faculty and other first-year commuters, the group hopes to help ease the transition into higher education for off-campus residents.
According to the Cruisers website, the group not only has on-campus benefits but also off-campus activities and excursions to strengthen relationships among commuters. If commuter engagement is at an all-time low, then perhaps a club for commuters with virtual options is a step in the right direction.
“I would love to see some kind of commuter committee with people who provide feedback on the commuter experience,” Kalani said. “I know there are the commuter Cruisers for first-year students, but I would love something for the upperclassmen, so that there is more sense of community among commuters. There is kind of a divide between commuters and residents, and if there is more of a community, then people will be more likely to go to things like [on-campus] events.”