Pace is among the many American colleges that have resumed in-person classes with virtually-supported hybrid courses. Yet life on campus seems to have restarted for the first time since mid-march. Despite that, commuter students have a different perspective on current campus life.
“Honestly, there are not a lot of people on campus at all. This campus is pretty dead right now,” junior criminal justice major Kiersten McGovern said. “All the commuters I know decided to stay home for this semester and they are completely online.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic first started to force universities around the world to close their doors in March, commuters and residents struggled to adopt online education from home. However, as some residents are back on campus, the story is different for commuters.
Pace is offering many hybrid courses this semester and students may opt to attend fully virtual. Online classes have made it easier in some aspects.
“For commuters they don’t want to commute here every single day if their classes are hybrid,” explained McGovern.
Though commuters tend to spend less time on campus, commuter life organization has helped non-residents get involved in campus life. Being a commuter assistant, McGovern says campus events have significantly dropped. Less commuters are coming to the campus and this makes it difficult for the organization to plan events.
“Events have been a bit more difficult to plan. We are all still figuring out the logistics of everything and trying to see what would draw commuters to events,” Angilee Sewkarran, senior integrated marketing and human resource major and co-president of campus life, said.
The organization is planning to hold a pumpkin painting event on Oct. 14th. However, with less students on campus, and New York State restrictions imposed on in-person gatherings, the organization is struggling to determine how many attendees will be present. Sewkarran describes this as the “one of the biggest issues” the organization is having.
“We are kind of nervous because we don’t know how many commuters are completely home this semester. And we are nervous about how many pumpkins we should purchase and what we plan for this event,” McGovern said.
As most students are online this semester, and in-person gatherings are limited, the attendance is low compared to last years. “It is kind of hard to find a balance of getting people involved in the campus events even though they are home or at campus.” McGovern said.
McGovern travels to the campus three days a week from her native Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. Last semester, she was a member of the criminal justice club and psychology club as well as being a commuter assistant and a Week of Welcome leader.
She says the lack of campus liveliness this fall, has ‘definitely taken a toll’ on campus life.
“I think as a commuter it is harder to make friends this semester because there are no in person activities or even if there is, it is very limited people,” McGovern describes. “As a commuter you need to join a lot of clubs, you need to stay on campus more because that is how you make friends but now you can’t really sit next to people in the lounge areas and there are no in person club meetings.”
Although the campus is not the same this fall, the organization is still working on planning events and getting commuters involved in campus life. McGovern, who runs commuter life’s Instagram page, actively posts stories, asks questions, and puts on polls.
“I post a lot of stories just to get them involved,” McGovern said. “We are also thinking of having giveaways just for commuters so they could still feel like they are still involved on campus even though they are home.”