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To drive or not to drive, that is the question

By Kaytee Lozier

Imagine waking up in your bed at home to drive through an hour of traffic, sit through classes, then drive another hour to your off-campus job, and back home again. Then, if you want to attend the soccer game or hang with some friends on campus you would have to make the trip again. For many commuting students at the University, this is reality.

When asked to rate personal "school spirit," 200 commuting students at the University averaged a 5 out of 10. Despite this display of mediocrity, the attitude commuting students hold toward their college experience is often one of discontent and detachment.

The majority of the 200 commuters questioned believe they are less involved with campus affairs than residents. Many are never on campus unless they need to be, and they rarely or never attend University sporting events. Jim Sabellico, a junior commuting student, usually spends more time hanging out with his friends in areas closer to his home.

"I feel that if I were a resident, I would be more involved in campus activities," Sabellico said.

Associate Dean of Students Linda O'Malley generally agrees with the commuters' sentiments.

"I think a resident student may be more aware of the whole spectrum of campus life and everything that happens, from sporting events to cultural events to R.A. programs and concerts," O'Malley said. "They're here, so they see 24/7 what the campus is like." A large complaint within the commuter population is the annoyance of driving, the traffic and particularly parking.

"When you commute you think twice before joining anything," sophomore Natalia Policiano said. "With traffic, it becomes a hassle to contstantly go back and forth." Sophomore Matt Nelson had similar criticisms.

"It takes me between 10 and 25 minutes to get to Hofstra, but I have to leave at least an hour early to find parking," Nelson said.

Of 30 commuters, 22 said the majority of their friends were either fellow commuters or people who do not go to the University. Only two said most of their friends were residents.

"In my experience, it seems like all the residents stay in their groups of friends and the commuters are forced to talk only to each other," George Chahinian, a junior commuting student, said.

While some commuters enjoy the convenience of going home at night, others would rather reside on campus.

"I'd rather be a resident, because I'm not experiencing that first feeling of independence," Katlyn Roedel, a sophomore, said. "I'm missing out on what are probably strong bonds you form when you live with someone new."

Some student and faculty organizations that are aware of the general grievance are attempting to close the gap between residents and commuters.

Arianne Romeo, the director of Commuting Student Affairs, has brainstormed ways to make stronger connections between residents and commuters, and believes that more joint programming with Residential Life would aid in doing so.

"My biggest goal is to get the commuters to be aware of the vast amounts of activities going on," Romeo said.

Patrick McDonald, the representative of Commuter Students in the SGA Senate, is a member of the Organization of Commuting Students, a student group on campus geared toward involving commuters in campus affairs. Some of their ideas include a commuter lounge on the south side of campus and other commuter-related events.

"We're a creative bunch, so we're hoping that we come out with some ideas that help out," McDonald said.

Parking is always tight for commuters, especially when residents drive to class.

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