Commuter Life met with challenges amid pandemic


Nadya Makay

Sajita Elaprolu (front), Anna Ramalho (left) and Daniel Grabowski (center) sit in the commuter corner between classes, which has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chloe Forbes and Natalee Stinebiser

The Commuter Corner acts much like a safe haven for commuters. This is a place where commuter students can come to eat meals, do homework or even nap to avoid traveling all the way home in between classes.
Next week, commuters will have a moment in the spotlight as the Office of Commuter Life hosts Commuter Awareness Week.
The event, which will run from Monday through Thursday, will feature a number of events. Among them are a scavenger hunt, Kahoot, bingo, and arts and crafts. Some events will be held via Zoom, while others will be in person.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commuter Corner would be packed full of students, cramming on the sofa, sitting or standing around the room with no regard to distancing.
It was a comfortable place for commuters to gather, many of whom started their first college friendships.
Heidi Noyes, the director of commuter life, said the Commuter Corner is a home away from home that allows students to grow and become a part of the Gannon community.
“They can put their roots in there and branch out to different parts of the university,” Noyes said.
Now with the social distancing guidelines in place, only 25 students are allowed in the Commuter Corner at a time, as opposed to the previous 60-person capacity.
Because of the limited capacity, many commuters are forced to find new spots around campus to go to in between class. For on-campus residents, students can just go back into their dorms rather than searching for a free spot.
However, that is impossible for commuters. As many students on campus are trying to look for a new study spot, this has impacted the commuters directly and made it difficult for them to find free spots around campus between classes.
Noyes mentioned that she has noticed students sitting in their cars between classes or reserving a room in the library in order to have a place to go.
“Commuters already have to work so much harder to get involved on campus,” Noyes said. “Now being engaged is harder than usual due to COVID-19.”
It has especially been difficult for students who have grown so accustomed to going to the Commuter Corner during their free time.
Mikel-Bryan Ott, a sophomore accounting and sports management major, is one of these students who spends time in the Commuter Corner between classes.
“I really don’t go anywhere besides the Commuter Corner and my classes,” Ott said. “If it were closed, I would probably just go to my classes then directly home.
“There wouldn’t be a point to be on campus because there wouldn’t be anywhere to go where I’d be comfortable.”
He also said that this has changed the Commuter Corner from what he remembers it being before the pandemic.
“It hasn’t impacted it too much, but it has decreased the number of people that want to come in nowadays,” he said. “It’s not as fun as I remember it last semester.”
The coffee and craft time, FIFA and Mario Kart tournaments and other popular events aren’t able to happen in the same capacity anymore due to limitations and inability to spread the word as much.
Noyes said they try to reach out to students as much as possible through email, but the turnout is not the same.
Historically, the Commuter Corner has been a growing program for mostly first- and second-year students to gather and socialize until they are able to become more engrossed with their specific academic path.
A lot of the draw for events usually comes from providing food, but that is no longer an option due to the current restrictions.


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