Last semester I shed light on some of the unfair ways commuters have been treated at CWRU. From a dingy lounge space to an overall lack of recognition, it seemed that this past fall, things were looking dismal for commuters seeking improvements, myself included.
Since the needs of commuters have been made known, a great deal of progress has been made, especially with regard to our status as an organization on campus. One of the biggest changes has been the creation of the Commuter Advocacy Council (CAC), formerly the Commuter Student Association.
I spoke with Barnabas Brennan, the Chair of CAC, about the organization’s standing and plans for the future.
According to Brennan, “At this point, the Commuter Advocacy Council is considered an Ad Hoc committee of USG, with the ability to make our concerns known and be heard by student leadership and the CWRU administration.”
Now, the CAC has the benefit of being recognized by the Undergraduate Student Government, which allows the CAC to better serve the unique needs of commuters. One of the most important advantages the CAC has now, unlike in the past, is an allocated budget from USG for both basic necessities and community-building events.
The CAC is now working on a confirmed budget so that commuters no longer have to pay for events and materials out of pocket. Brennan saw a warm reception from the USG when discussing representation and financial backing. Ultimately, change will come slowly.
“We have a ways to go, and there are still many issues surrounding commuter needs, but we have taken some vital steps in advocating for our fellow students,” Brennan said.
The CAC, with the help of USG, has worked to make life better for commuters at CWRU. Now, it is up to commuters to make use of these resources and continue the growth of the CAC.
It is no secret that commuting at CWRU is not very common. Students who do commute usually either make a huge attempt at fitting into campus life by spending as much time on campus as possible, or they simply come to their classes and leave, spending as little time on campus as possible.
Neither of these behaviors helps to improve the quality of life for commuters, especially if resources specifically designed for commuters are not utilized. Students often do not care to be associated with commuters because there are so few on campus; it is almost as though there is a stigma attached to commuting.
The reality is that, though it may seem rare, there are students who commute. This is something that professors, students and even commuters all need to remember at times. For whatever reason (usually financial) there will always be some students who are from the Cleveland area who do not live in the vicinity of campus.
These students should feel accepted on campus, which is something that I personally cannot say I have always felt during my four years at CWRU. There were various times when I would rather tell others that I was unable to attend one thing or another due to a scheduling conflict, instead of being truthful and admitting that it was because of my bus schedule.
Ultimately, now that the CAC has gained the support of USG, there is no better time to collaborate and truly address the needs of commuting students. However commuters need to be willing to come forward and vocalize their needs. Commuter students are finally being recognized on campus, and quite frankly, it’s a big deal.
Hopefully this progress can continue until commuter students build a community within CWRU as a whole.
Anna is a fourth-year English and political science double major.