Commuter lounge offers “home away from home” to off-campus students

Rachel Purget

There’s a big secret here on campus. And it’s den on the fourth floor of the library.

The secret is the commuter lounge at Kent State. The fourth floor lounge, shared with the Writing Commons, is the area designated as the “home away from home” for students that live off campus. It is one of many resources that Kent State offers to commuter students.

“About 80 percent of students commute or live off campus” said Rebecca Kapler, coordinator for Off-Campus and Commuter Services, now known as UCommute. “So only about 7,000 students live on campus. Freshman year about 20 percent commute and 80 percent live on campus, but in the overall population it’s about 80 percent.”

COSO, the “Commuter and Off-Campus Student Organization,” is one of the oldest student groups on campus. Their mission is to be an advocate and provide services to benefit commuter students, hoping that they will feel more “at home” here on campus. UCommute, part of the Center for Student Involvement, is the university department that deals directly with commuter students.

COSO and UCommute share a common goal: to get commuter students involved on campus.

“I’m not very involved myself. I come to school, do my classes, do my homework, then go home,” said Alex Styles, sophomore physics major. “I always see those signs all over campus — ‘get involved’ even if you’re a commuter student. I mean, I feel like they want me to, but I just haven’t really done that because all my friends go to Akron.”

Kapler said there are plenty of activities and benefits for commuter students who participate in COSO, including a car winterization clinic in November and a housing fair in the spring.

“COSO partners with all the different student organizations to do different events and outreach through that,” Kapler said. “They try to get their name out there more and just do different activities.”

Although many students don’t know about COSO or UCommute, many persons admire their aim to bring off-campus students closer to the university.

Gina Teti, graduate student of Library and Information Science, said she thinks such an accommodation is important for undergraduate students who don’t feel like part of the campus.

“I always tell freshman if they’re not sure about living on campus — if they can afford it — to live on campus, just because you get the whole experience,” she said. “But if you have to commute, I think it’s necessary to have something like COSO.”

Contact Rachel Purget at [email protected].