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Hofstra makes commuters feel at home

Autumn McLeodSpecial to The Chronicle

From the re-vamped styling of the first-floor commuter lounge in the Student Center to the cozy atmosphere and refreshments of the Off-Campus Living office on the second floor, Anita Ellis, director of Off-Campus Living and Commuting Student Services, continues to enhance the co-curricular lives of non-residential students. Ellis has made it her goal each year to provide a safe haven for University commuters to connect and relax. She has also created new ideas to get commuters to participate in activities with the whole campus community. Ellis started out with re-designing the chairs and tables of the lounge, adding color and life with a modern approach in detail. The changes to the lounge were implemented this summer and allow students the option of studying quietly or entertaining themselves with the big flat-screen TV. However, the new atmosphere of the lounge is not the only update that has been designed for commuters. At the beginning of the semester, Ellis created Commuters Hour for the Student Center’s basement Game Room, which takes place on Wednesdays during common hour. “My creation process is to advertise the Commuter Hour so that we can attract commuter students to utilize services at the University,” said Ellis. About 50 people have already shown up to the second Commuters Hour, where students are encouraged to ask questions. Ellis is also planning on creating an activity with the Fitness Center to get students more active, and she is even creating a cooking class. “Moving forward, we are going to do a cooking class with Hofstra Dining Services next year,” said Ellis. “When we do something with the cooking class [commuter students] are going to ask questions. Maybe they will ask questions about the meal plan or maybe they will ask about Hofstra dining.” Although activities are open to commuter students throughout campus, Ellis pointed out that it can be harder for commuters to adapt to college life compared to those who live in dorms because of the fact that they have to travel. However, “50 percent of the presidents of the clubs and organizations [at Hofstra] are commuter students,” according to Ellis. Undergraduate junior Beena Kanhailall manages to find a way to juggle all of her clubs as a commuter student. Kanhailall is a senator of Student Government Association, a member of the Indian dancing team, founding mother of the Delta Phi Omega sorority, a member of Hofstra Versus Zombies and a member of the club She’s the First, which fundraises money to send girls to school. Kanhailall finds that it is not difficult to attend her meetings, which sometimes last till 3:30 a.m. because she drives and only lives 25 minutes away. Before she drove, it was much harder. “It was extremely difficult and I couldn’t even participate in anything because by the time I got out of class I was already tired and had to travel home.” said Kanhailall. Junior Melaine Morgan also finds it difficult sometimes to attend some of her meetings. Morgan is an event coordinator for Hofstra University Association of Black Journalist, radio personality for Radio Hofstra University and for the online radio station Required Radio. However, Morgan finds a way to make sure that she speaks to club leaders in order to remain active. “Sometimes I will have talks with the president and let them know I really want to be involved but I can’t come to the meetings all the time,” said Morgan. “Some of them are just like okay it’s alright we will send you whatever was talked about in the meeting and try to keep you updated.” Dana Gibbs, a junior commuter who enjoys using the lounge as a studying area, is currently not a member of any campus clubs because of the fact that many meetings occur too late. Gibbs presented her idea that clubs should have earlier meetings. “Meetings at common hour on Wednesdays would be really good, because almost everyone doesn’t have class and you’re most likely on campus at that time, so that would be better for commuters to be able to join clubs.” Ellis maintains that it is ultimately up to commuter students to speak to the presidents of clubs and see how the clubs could better accommodate their schedules. With the amount of student visits increasing each day to the office, Ellis encourages students to ask her for help if needed. “I was just out there asking commuters what kind of services they need and they all look at me and they don’t tell me,” said Ellis. “It’s up to commuters to let us know what you need so we could make it happen.”

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