The drop-in style event was held March 10 on Cruz Plaza and offered goodie bags to commuter students as well as the chance to win a mystery prize.
Emily Halstead, director of student success, and student success counselor Dana Horsford orchestrated the event to acknowledge this particular population of students and encourage them to feel comfortable in their often fast-paced environments.
“The idea came from thinking about ways to help commuters feel appreciated and seen,” Halstead said. “We also wanted these students to have the opportunity to learn about what kinds of resources are available to them through the Office of Student Success.”
Halstead is among those who are dedicated to uplifting the experiences of commuters by placing into action commuter-friendly initiatives, including the opening of the new Commuter Lounge located on the second floor in the Tarver Library.
The Commuter Lounge features various amenities, including a microwave, bulletin board for campus notices and events, and lockers to help keep commuters from walking potentially long distances to their cars to store and retrieve course materials.
“A number of departments worked together to explore opportunities to serve commuter students, and we came to a decision that this space would be great for commuter students,” Halstead said of the lounge. “The library staff ran with it and made it a welcoming place to make sure every commuter has access with their Bear Card.”
One student that utilizes the Commuter Lounge is Juliana Hawkinson, a junior technical communication major. She noted that the lounge allows the chance for more interaction with fellow students.
“I think the commuter lounge is a great start to make the most of our time here on campus,” Hawkinson said. “We also have a chance to see more friends, meet more people and connect in ways we didn’t know we could.”
Another commuter who utilizes the lounge is Victoria Whitehead, a senior technical communication major. Although she spends much of her time in the Engineering Building, she appreciates that the lounge provides a place to be comfortable when she can use it.
“It’s a nice environment, and it’s nice to have a little corner that’s like, ‘You guys are special, and although you’re not getting the community aspect, we still have a special place for you to go,’” Whitehead said. “I love the idea and wish they had it before my senior year, but better late than never.”
Although the college experience is often associated with residing on campus, the University is devoted to not leaving commuters behind within the Mercer family.
“It’s vital that every Mercer student has clear ways to develop community and have places on campus where they feel that sense of belonging,” Halstead said. “Because at Mercer it’s so important that in our community everyone feels connected.”