The plight of the commuter

Sheldon Larmond, Contributing Writer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. –College can be a tough deal, but it’s much tougher when you’re avoiding accidents on the road while getting to class.

This is the plight faced by students who live at home and travel to school by car. Commuter students face several challenges when attempting to take classes to obtain their degree. The same problems find their way to Jacksonville University.

“There aren’t enough parking spaces or parking lots that have ample parking for the students who are commuters,” said Stephen Williams, a 32-year-old commuter student majoring in Communications, Theater, and Marketing. “For the students who are on campus, they’re either down below Kinne, by the cafeteria, or by the library, and you’re liable to get any tickets if you park in those areas or in the wrong spot outside Howard, it’s really just a big hassle.”

Parking isn’t the only issue on commuter’s minds—some have stated that having to carry a day’s worth of books and supplies around all day is annoying.

“It’s frustrating not being able to find a place to park, not having places to heat up or prepare food from home, and not having places to put heavy backpacks,” said Hannah Cone, a commuter with a fifty-minute drive to and from school. “It would also be nice to have places like a locker room meant for commuter students.”

Often the walk or drive is bad enough. Commuter students tend toward poorer engagement with their school depending on how far their commute is, according to a study by the National Survey of Student Engagement. Living off campus may be cheaper but has drawbacks when it comes to academic study.

Catlynne Keet, sophomore at JU and the Commuter Student Senator to the JU Student Government Association, is working to change that. In 2018, she started the Commuter Student Alliance to cater to—and advocate for—the needs of students who live off campus.

“I wanted to do that in order to connect more commuters together,” Keet said. “I wanted to be able to contact them as a group…there’s no other way to reach out to commuter students, in particular.”

Keet has lobbied for commuter students to have places to stay, places to print, and ways to better engage with the JU experience. The Commuter Student lounge is also her doing, the product of a year’s work of lobbying for the interest of commuters.

Keet holds Commuter Student Alliance meetings once a month in Gooding Auditorium, from 1 to 1:30, and invites all commuter students to attend.

““The school just got some funding for next year or the year after where they’re going to work on fixing parking issues, but I don’t know what they’re going to do with the money, that’s up to them. What I would like to do is have this commuter backbone where we can say ‘Hey, we want our parking lots paved with the money we got,’ so that’s our next goal.”