Commuter students face difficulties on campus


Aanchal Bakshi

Students catch the bus at the Student Center, April 28, 2014, headed toward Summit East/Stadium, two large lots where many commuters have to park for the first few years at Kent State.

Julia Adkins

Commuting to Kent State is not an easy feat.  

Struggling to get by in college is a problem that affects the majority of college students. As commuters make up 80 percent of the population at Kent State, their struggles differ than those of on-campus students.  

Just finding the motivation to wake up early, get ready and make the drive to campus can be a challenge.  Junior psychology major Kevin Payne said that is one of the top five problems of being a commuter.

“It’s a lot harder to get up and drive to school than walk five minutes to class,” he said.

According to Commuter Student Problems on Tumblr, Kent State isn’t the only college to face this issue. “Commuter Student Problem #5: When resident students complain about early classes,” reads one of the photos posted on the blog.

Another major problem that commuter students face on a daily basis, that isn’t always noticed, is the long break between classes. Katie Strok, a sophomore music education major and marching band member said she fights the constant battle of dirty looks while getting on the bus.

“I always look like a nomad,” Strok said about having to carry her laptop, lunch box, change of clothes for band, water and her instrument around campus all day. “I’m the kid who gets nasty looks because I take up three seats with all my stuff.”

Don’t even get commuters going about buses, as this is one of the issues they feel stronger about. Freshman Steve Pavliga said, “The biggest problem for sure is the Summit East buses getting bunched together.”  

While the bus schedule is set to remain the same all day long, sometimes this doesn’t happen due to different circumstances.  Although this isn’t a problem that can be resolved entirely, students definitely lose a lot of time while waiting for the bus.  

Payne also understands the time issue, especially when it’s to come back on campus to speak with a teacher briefly.  

“It’s not worth parking at the stadium, waiting a half an hour for a bus, then riding the bus for ten minutes just for a professor to answer a question for ten minutes and then repeating the hour process to get back to your car,” he said.  

The changing weather in Kent also seems to contribute to problems for commuters.  Art major sophomore Stephanie Watters felt it was hard to get to class on time this winter due to the weather.  

“Driving to class and being on time was hard because of the road conditions and the traffic,” she said.  “Some professors don’t care as long as you there in one piece, but others won’t even let you in the classroom.”  

Freshman Katie Jankowski, also a commuter, agreed and said that the roads were taking a toll on her vehicle.

“The roads suck, and there’s potholes every where,” she said.

The weather has proved difficult for commuter students in other areas on campus as well, such as parking.  Junior commuter Katie Borton, a communication studies major and assistant executive director of Commuter and Off-Campus Student Organization, or COSO, said she thought that the snow this past winter left the parking lots for commuter students a problem.

“Students already struggle to find spots as it is, and the road maintenance at KSU should focus more on helping rather than hurting,” Borton said.  “Meaning plowing all of the snow out of the way instead of taking up spots to put the snow.”  

However, the snow covering the parking lots this past winter was not the only parking concern for commuter students.  Parking in general has become a heavy topic for commuter at Kent State.  Watters admitted that parking was the biggest problem being a commuter.  

“Either I park at Summit East, a meter or get a ticket, and that’s annoying,” she said.  

She suggested that Kent State should offer more parking meters, which would also help the issue of carrying large projects and other things around on campus or just running into a building quickly.  

During the Student Housing and Involvement Fair in January, COSO had a commuter survey for students that asked commuters what they would like to see changed in regards to commuting at Kent State, according to Borton.  She said, “many responses were similar in the fact that commuters would like more and better parking.  Within the survey, students gave examples of how to fix the parking situations like adding a new parking lot for commuters by Franklin and McGilvrey Halls, while others recommended a parking garage, Borton said.

In COSO’s survey, commuter students made note that they wanted more activities geared towards them, as well.  Freshman Liquid Crystal Engineering major Will Stevens said he feels commuters end up “less social because we don’t share a building” all year long.  

Freshman Micheala Knight also feels the same way.

“You don’t get the full experience being a commuter, it makes it harder to make friends,” she said.  

Payne also mentioned “it’s really hard to stay involved, especially if you’re working.”  

Borton assured that COSO was taking these problems into consideration and has already started to implement ways to help commuters feel more connected.  COSO has already tried to “add more commuter activities for this year and next year,” Borton said.  She also said that COSO has partnered with Undergraduate Student Government and PARTA to create a GPS system for the PARTA buses where students can download an app to see where the buses are and how long they will take until the next stop.  

Despite all the problems that commuter students face on a daily basis, many of them know that commuting works well for them.  Tyler Coia, a sophomore sports administrator major and commuter student, said commuting isn’t that bad.

“I commute because I am so involved with my family and family responsibilities that it’s the right decision,” he said.   

It came down to financial aspects for Coia.

“When you add room and board and a meal plan, it’s 10 grand a year.  To drive eight minutes for me to go to school and back just to save 40 grand over four years, well, it is well worth it,” he said.  

Pavliga also agreed.

“Other than the busing issue, there’s no complaints,” Pavliga said. “I mean it’s rather time consuming, but it’s also not financially idiotic.”  

Being a commuter definitely comes with its problems and obstacles, but the students at Kent State know stick it out.

Contact Julia Adkins at [email protected].