Flames of the Torch

Let’s not kid ourselves: commuters at St. John’s have to work overtime to enjoy the full college experience. They have hectic schedules, spend much time traveling to class and relatively few options when it comes to campus activities, and they make up about 80 percent of the student population. Acknowledging this, St. John’s planned a Commuter Appreciation Day on September 4, with a breakfast at 8 a.m., a barbeque at 2 p.m., and-the highlight of the day-a drive-in movie in the parking lot outside of the University Center (UC) at 8 p.m..

Wait, scratch that last one.
About 40 minutes before the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” was to be shown, Campus Activities announced that they could not find the $7,000 projection screen. The showing of the film was then moved to the Little Theater, destroying the drive-in atmosphere they were striving for.
A misplaced screen might normally be forgiven – but it’s truly representative of the lack to follow through displayed by the University when it comes time to cater to its commuter students.

Last semester, one of the key highlights of “Commuter Appreciation Week” was the distribution of smoothies in the UC lobby. Would saving three dollars on a smoothie really attract commuters to stay on campus for a few extra hours and get involved more? What’s more, the smoothies were handed out to both resident and commuter students. So how was this a perk for commuters?

The University recognizes its roots as a commuter school and is clearly interested in attracting commuters and keeping them involved, and that is commendable. But each misstep sets progress back tenfold.

And despite the University’s ill-executed “appreciations,” the University is not entirely to blame for low commuter participation. It’s unclear who’s the chicken and who’s the egg in this scenario, but St. John’s should be commended for making the attempt – attempts that in the past have met with a great deal of apathy from commuters.

This must be frustrating to administrators, given the goodwill and well-intentioned plans of Campus Activities, an organization aimed at helping all students realize that there is a lot to do on campus, providing a great opportunity to engage in the college experience.

For the Commuter Appreciation Day, the Campus Activities promoted its events through different means, including posters, St. John’s Central, and even an event created on Facebook by students. So it would be unjustified for a commuter to say that the University has done nothing for them.

Although the quality of the festivities for the commuters needs improvement, the University is at least trying. Commuters should be more willing to participate and give them a try.

Better planning is needed – and better yet, some indication that commuters have some input into the “appreciation” activities.
Otherwise, the University will only help perpetuate a cycle of commuter apathy that may never be broken.

Given that the majority of undergraduate students here are commuters, everyone needs to take this more seriously.