Commuter Week took place in the Memorial Union Sept. 28 to Oct. 3, celebrating commuter and nontraditional students and introducing students to the Commuter Lounge and all it has to offer.
Barbara Smith runs the event and those that follow throughout the school year, including Nontraditional Student Week, which is to take place during the first week of November.
“We tend to think of ourselves as a residential campus. So Commuter Week is really sort of … a message to commuter students that they are still involved in the community at the University of Maine,” Smith said.
This is Smith’s 10th year running Commuter Week, before which she worked in Residence Life for 25 years.
“It’s to the larger community to remind them that most [students] are commuters and therefore their lives are more complex and more demanding and there’s a lot more to maintaining their academic life than just showing up for class,” Smith said.
Approximately 63 percent of UMaine students are commuters, according to Smith.
Commuter week boasts a number of informational sessions that take place in the Commuter Lounge in the Memorial Union. The “Lunch and Learn” session on Tuesday, Sept. 29 featured Captain Welch from the UMaine Police Department who talked about preparing for winter driving and ways to be safe and proactive when going to and from campus.
The “Lunch and Learn” discussion takes place every day during Commuter Week, except for Friday, with a different speaker and topic every day. The lunch is free and, as there always is in the Commuter Lounge, there is free coffee. “Lunch and Learn” is funded through Commuter and Nontraditional Students (CANS) and through Student Government and the Dean of Students. Friday, Oct. 2 featured free bagels beginning at 8 a.m.
“I’m a first year so it’s kind of nice, it feels like we’re more connected to the school because commuting is a different experience. You don’t get to meet all the people that you would living in a dorm. But being here you can meet tons of different people who are in the same situation as you,” Grace Rowe, a UMaine student, said of the Commuter Lounge.
Pizza lunch took place on Monday, Sept. 28 and was funded by Orchard Trails and incoming apartment complex The Avenue. More than 300 students showed up for the lunch.
“[The Commuter Lounge] kind of makes us feel more welcomed and at home because we don’t have a dorm here to live in. It’s a place where we can come and know that there are people like us here,” Megan Houp, a first-year student, said.
Every Wednesday at 2 p.m. the organization brings in someone from on campus to teach commuters about parking services, study abroad and other campus services and options. Commuter Lounge staff bring resources to the students since it can be hard for commuters to find the time to locate such facilities.
Students who used to find the room at 228 in the Memorial Union will be pleased to learn that the new space on the lounge on the ground floor has a much larger area which can hold more tables, dry erase boards and room for foot traffic and the popcorn machine that stands at the entrance to the room. The lounge is staffed Monday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.