As a freshman at Marquette who decided to ride the bus to school, I did not expect to have a big network of friends from the start of my college experience. Little did I know that there was a network already set up for me if I had the initiative to pursue it. Thanks to CSA (the Commuter Student Association), my transition into college was smoother than I could have ever expected.
A great amenity offered by the CSA is the Commuter Lounge. Tucked away on the west side of the AMU, ground floor, just down the hall from student government, the Commuter Lounge is a popular location frequented by a dozen or more students during its busiest periods – before classes and around the lunch hour. The space has two rooms, one with a round table, two couches and two chairs, the other with two computers, one smaller table, a refrigerator, microwave and cabinets. It is a nice space for situations where a few people want to socialize or study together.
However, in a setting where a couple dozen students want to eat lunch and chat, it is too small and invasive a space. The study and socializing spaces are not only crammed, but further, are not separated by any door, making concentration difficult. If a door existed, it would allow students a quiet space to study, and also, allow the students who want to socialize to be able to do so without worrying about distracting other students.
As for the space issue, there are a couple of ways it can be resolved. One would be to expand the current space of the Commuter Lounge into the courtyard. That would certainly allow for close to twice the amount of space it presently occupies. Admittedly, this would be a difficult option to execute, especially if other students rely on the courtyard for eating or studying.
That’s why the option that seems to make more sense is to trade spaces with another room in the AMU. One possible trade would be with the Multicultural Lounge, a bigger room than the Commuter Lounge with a conference room in the back that could be used as a quiet study space. Although the space is large and functional, it is not utilized or frequented nearly as thoroughly as the Commuter Lounge. This tells me a swap would be better for both organizations. Why give a larger space to a smaller group? Three to five people are in there on average during the school day, while the Commuter Lounge is sometimes squeezing twenty students at one time.
As a commuter student, having a place to meet college students who are in a similar situation as me has been a great experience, one which I think all commuters should have the opportunity to partake in. Unfortunately, partially due to lack of space in the Commuter Lounge, some new commuters are drawn away from this experience because it is too crowded early in the morning and during the lunch hour. I think if we are given a bigger room, more commuters would show up on a regular basis because there is less of an intimidation factor with a room that is larger and more open.
Eventually, if the numbers of commuters using the Commuter Lounge on a regular basis increases even marginally, a slightly larger space will be needed, and the Multicultural Lounge would be the ideal swap scenario. They would get slightly better privacy, as there are not as many windows in the Commuter Lounge, while commuters would get a larger room, and one with a potential adjoining room for those who want privacy. It would also offer a great opportunity to the growing numbers of commuter students.
by Nicholas Groh
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