The Associated Students of Whittier College (ASWC) Senate worries that living off-campus may cause commuters to feel as though they are disconnected from on-campus events or that they do not have a voice in campus life. According to Faculty Master and Professor of Acting and Directory Department of Theatre and Communicated Arts Gil Gonzalez, commuters compose roughly half of Whittier’s student body, and ASWC feels that they deserve to be represented on Senate. For this reason, Senate created the Commuter Student Association (CSA). The CSA is composed of three commuter representatives who listen to concerns raised by commuter students, and speak on their behalf to Whittier College administration and the rest of Senate. However, the CSA dissolved last semester, leaving just one commuter representative for the Spring semester, second-year Jesus Delgado.
It is the job of the Commuter Representative(s) to promote commuter-centric events on campus. These events can take on a variety of forms, but the most popular are commuter breakfasts and lunches. “Planning events on campus can be quite a lot of work,” said Delgado. “As far as figuring out something that everyone would be into, it is best to take a few ideas to smaller groups like clubs and student organizations first, then take each response to the ideas we presented and go with the one that is most favored.”
While the CSA does help put on a number of commuter events, some commuter students are unaware of their efforts. “I can only remember one [commuter] event,” said first-year Alondra Sicairos, “which was a s’mores night in the Stauffer courtyard, but I don’t think I’ve ever attended one.” Another commuter, first-year Danielle Flores agrees, “I never get emails on commuter events, and I feel like I don’t see flyers anywhere,” she said. Flores feels that other types of on-campus events are well advertised, and she has no trouble attending them. “I’m always going to other on-campus events with my friends, and being a commuter doesn’t make me feel any less involved,” she said. However, Flores went on to emphasise that, while she does not feel disconnected from the rest of campus, she thinks it would be good to make new commuter friends. “I don’t know many commuters, so if these events were more advertised I would definitely go, because it’d be cool to meet new people who are also commuters,” said Flores.
Delgado explained why fewer commuters are aware of the commuter events hosted on campus. “My [first year] the CSA planned quite a few events for commuter students,”said Delgado. “They were a very active body — unfortunately, many of the students involved with the CSA graduated, and it ultimately dissolved, which is why this semester those events were not as prevalent.”
However, Delgado is optimistic for the future of commuter events on campus. “I and a few other fellow commuter students are currently planning to revamp and come back with a new and improved CSA,” said Delgado. “Last year, turnout rates averaged at 30-35 students, and in early April of this year we had a turnout of 65 students. We plan to see similar numbers in the events to come next semester.”