College life is not an easy one. There is tuition to pay, final exams, and the constant flow of homework — there is always homework.But there are some students at Castleton, those who also have to drive to campus every day, who have a little more to worry about than others.
Commuters have always been considered a part of the Castleton community, but they are separated by some unique challenges that provide a different campus experience than that of residential students.
Suzy Saetta, a senior commuter, said she sometimes faces a challenge even before coming to campus.
“They need to be more sensitive, when there’s bad weather,” Suzy explains “It may be fine at campus, but where I’m from there could be ice.”
Saetta is not the only commuter who faces this kind of problem. Chad Poljacik said he has found it frustrating to come all the way to campus only to discover class is canceled.
“They’re always talking about a green campus. How green is it to drive a half an hour out of my way, when class is cancelled,” he stated.
Poljacik has also faced some unique challenges when it comes to his class experience. As a sociology major, one of his class requirements was to interview 19 Castleton students. The problem was, he didn’t have access to the residential halls.
“I think it’s an unfair requirement for commuters,” he said “We had to stand outside a dorm waiting for someone to walk by and let us in.”
Dennis Proulx, director of residence life on campus, says that problem can be easily solved.
“We do offer resident hall passes for any student who needs one,” he said.
Proulx agrees college life can be harder on commuter students, but Castleton does its best to suit the needs of all its students, he said.
“It’s hard to get that social aspect of residence life .,” Proulx said, before going on to explain that it is important for students to stay for their freshman year orientation events, so they could at least build some social connections.
Proulx also said that at least six Soundings events are planned during the free lunch blocks, so that commuters can attend.
Melissa Paradee, the college’s commuter coordinator, adds there are many attractions that she and the college provide to make commuters feel more part of the college community.
“We have ‘commuter central’ right here in the campus center,” she said. “There is a mini fridge, and we try to keep paper plates and plastic silverware available for those commuters, who bring their own food.”
Paradee went on to say there is also a phone and computer available for any commuter to use, and there are also commuter give-away days with free certificates offered to any commuter in the center.
Paradee said it’s important to provide commuters with these luxuries to make their lives easier, and offer an atmosphere for commuters to relax in between classes.
“Many commuters don’t always realize they have all the same resources as on-campus students,” said Paradee
Although there are some challenges to being a commuter, campus life isn’t that bad for people not living on campus.
Eric Kaptian, categorized by Proulx as a “residential commuter” because he lives in the town of Castleton, but not on campus, finds life away from the dorms great.
“I don’t have to worry about any distractions, when doing my homework,” he said, “And I can live with someone I know.”
Saetta also agrees there are some very positive aspects about Castleton, even with the challenges of being a commuter.
“My experiences here have always been positive,” Suzy said, “It’s a real jewel [of a college].