Low turnout at DePaul commuter student fair

Commuters board a Union Pacific North Line Metra train toward Kenosha at the Clybourn stop. 82 percent of DePaul students are commuters, with many coming from the suburbs. (Grant Myatt / The DePaulia)
Commuters board a Union Pacific North Line Metra train toward Kenosha at the Clybourn stop. 82 percent of DePaul students are commuters, with many coming from the suburbs. (Grant Myatt / The DePaulia)

Wake up. Pack your bag full of everything you’ll need for the day. Catch the Metra or get in your car. Get to school. Go to numerous classes in a row. Come home. Sleep. Repeat.

Life for many commuter students at DePaul depends on a strict routine to get them to school – whether on the Metra or driving – and home again. With this schedule, there’s a lack of free time and difficulty in feeling part of the DePaul student body.

In an attempt to help reduce the stress of commuting and connect with students, the Division of Student Affairs held a Commuter Student Resource Fair Feb. 26.

Although the event featured numerous resources, there were not many  students perusing the fair. This may be due to the lack of time that commuter students have to get involved and attend information fairs, as they are constantly heading from class to class until it’s time for them to go home for the day.

A few students were in attendance throughout the day, but it was mostly due to passing through the 11th Floor Gallery in the DePaul Center, such as junior Fred Catolico, a commuter, who was only at the DePaul Center because he had a class.

Despite the attempt to appeal to commuter students, and to show that they can be involved in activities on campus, the low enthusiasm toward the Commuter Student Resource Fair proves that for many commuter students, there’s no time to participate in on-campus events.

Some of these resources directly impacted commuters, such as the Metropolitan Tenants Organization. The organization handed out pamphlets regarding numerous issues commuters who live within the city in apartments face, such as tenant responsibilities, leases and evictions.

Jessica Thompson, a DePaul junior who commutes from Chicago’s South Side, volunteers with the Metropolitan Tenants Organization.

For 30 years, MTO has advocated for affordable, safe and decent housing in Chicago. They recently collected signatures to petition for mandatory apartment inspections enforced by the city of Chicago.

Thompson became involved with the organization because she faced similar issues with landlords.

“It’s an interesting organization to work with,” Thompson said. “I’ve had landlords who have overstepped boundaries.”

In an effort to attract commuter students to living on campus, Housing Services also had a table at the fair where they handed out housing guides that outlined all of the on-campus housing options.

“The three main benefits of living on campus are convenience, safety and community activities,” senior Dan Olsen, an employee with Housing Services, said.

Despite this information, many commuter students can’t live on campus because of the high prices, the cheapest on-campus option is a double room in Corcoran Hall for the year at $6,960. All students who live on campus also need a meal plan. The cheapest of which is $1,461.

There were also tables that were resources for not only commuters, but for all students, including the Office of Student Involvement, who recommend OrgSync for commuter students looking to get involved at DePaul. The search bar on the website can help students with any interest find an activity or event for them.

“If you like rugby, you can type in rugby,” Office of Student Involvement employee Kristin Hagen said. “You can find events and activities for your individual interests.”

The LGBTQA Student Services also offered resources for all LGBTQA students, not just commuters, although they acknowledged that it’s more difficult for commuter students to be involved on campus.

“A lot of events are focused in Lincoln Park,” senior Rhone Talsma, who is also a commuter student, said. “But there are ways to get involved.”

Commuting is difficult and wearing task, and the most important resources for commuters are different for every student.

“I hope they realize the diversity of resources available for commuter students,” James Stewart, assistant director of Adult Student Affairs, said about the different resources at the fair.