Two weeks ago, St. John’s held its annual “Commuter Appreciation Week.” It consisted of activities aimed specifically for the commuter student community to acknowledge that the school values their presence on campus and remembers that they make up a significant portion of the student population.
But in a few months, commuters whose schedules rely heavily upon their dependence on transportation may not be able to attend the events specifically planned for them.
The MTA has recently proposed the possibility of a fare hike, something that may be pricey for St. John’s commuter students. The expected increase would add at least 50 cents per ride making the journey to school that much more expensive. For a student who has class on campus five days a week, the trip to and from campus would cost at least $5 a day, and $25 a week. This is a significant increase, one that would definitely have an effect on a commuter’s budget.
Many local high schools provide students with MetroCards for their daily commute. This is something St. John’s would do well to consider.
Providing MetroCards to students could be a good way for St. John’s to accommodate the fare hike and show commuters that they keep them in mind.
With the vast majority of the study body comprised of commuter students, considering their transportation needs may be a greater example of commuter appreciation than any week of events could provide.
Also, one of the biggest draws for students to live at St. John’s is the proximity to New York City. What good is this if traveling to the city becomes too expensive for residents to do on a regular basis? St. John’s mission should allow their students to enjoy the benefits of city life, and do everything it can to make that as affordable as possible.
This is not a new idea on campus. During the recent Student Government debates there was a suggestion that the school could potentially subsidize student transportation expenses, specifically for purchasing MetroCards.
A recent student Facebook group confirms the campus support for such an idea. Since its creation last semester, the group, called “St. John’s Students Need MetroCards,” has gathered more than 1,000 members.
To their credit, University administrators have also acknowledged the issue of the rate hike and recently told The Torch that they have thought about cutting a deal with the MTA to reduce prices for St. John’s students.
There are a number of other options the University could consider to help its students afford transportation. Firstly, they could use a portion of the Student Activity Fee to provide these MetroCards.
Currently this fee is used by SGI to provide for various student needs, but what better way could there be to serve the students than to help provide transportation to campus?
Another way for the University to come up with these funds would be to simply extract them from students’ tuition bills.
If St. John’s wanted to find a way to prove its dedication to its students and its metropolitan mission as a whole, they shouldn’t miss this opportunity to accommodate students in these tough economic times.
By providing MetroCards to students the University could improve satisfaction of students currently attending St. John’s and encourage more students to go here.