It’s Commuter Appreciation Month? Commuters don’t think so

Beth Beaudry, Student Life Editor

It’s Commuter Appreciation Month at the University of New Haven, and commuter students are feeling disappointed because of the lack of publicity and proper event planning.

Some of the events were meetings or programs held by the commuter club. While the club assisted the Center for Student Engagement, Leadership, and Orientation (CSELO) in planning the month, many students felt that there were not enough options.

“I feel like we should have at least a few events each week to make it seem like we’re more appreciated,” said sophomore civil engineering major and the club’s executive assistant, Yasmine Charles. “It’s just like, ‘here’s a few events here and there,’ and that’s all we get. I don’t feel like they did enough.”

Commuter club vice president and sophomore chemistry major Natalie Deesources felt that most of the responsibility fell on the club.

“I feel like [the commuter club has] been trying to do events each week, but there’s only so much we can do because we’re just students as well,” said Deesources. “We can’t allocate all of our time to planning things.”

Some events that were planned for commuters included a giveaway for a succulent and a food truck voucher. Senior forensic science major Erin Stevenin said that these events are inconvenient, and not considerable of students who are fully remote.

“The giveaways required you to be on campus at specific times to participate,” said Stevenin. “For commuter students living far away and remote students, this isn’t a great setup.”

Deesources said that while the giveaways did require in-person attendance – as well as an art night that required supplies to be passed out – the commuter club tried to create events that were mostly remote.

Other events include Twisted Thursday events that, as Stevenin pointed out, “would have happened anyway.”

On March 16, Stevenin posted to the Class of 2021 Facebook group saying, “Are any other commuter students underwhelmed by commuter appreciation month?”

Stevenin received several replies of students with the same sentiment.

“This is my first year as a commuter student, so I thought that this lackluster appreciation month could have been due to [COVID-19],” said Stevenin. “However, the comments from other students suggested that it’s like this every year.”

University commuter liaison Erica Gardner emailed Stevenin that same night, inviting her to join the commuter club in a meeting to share her thoughts on Commuter Appreciation Month. Ultimately, Stevenin responded with an email detailing what she thinks the university can be doing better for commuters.

Stevenin spoke on the period in the fall where commuter students were not allowed on campus. She said that the university could have increased events during Commuter Appreciation Month to make up for the time lost.

She said, “The school demonstrated that they don’t really appreciate commuters by having a poor attempt at a commuter appreciation month.”

According to Charles and Deesources, CSELO is planning to host a town forum to receive feedback on commuter appreciation month. Commuter academic peer mentor Amanda Rickett will be sending students a Google Form survey asking for opinions.

“I want a campus community that allows all students to participate and get involved no matter where they are located or how comfortable they are with in-person events during [COVID-19],” said Stevenin.