Commuter Council strives for visibility on campus
BY MEGAN SENSENEY
(WEBSTER GROVES, Mo, April 6, 2011) Limited numbers of parking spaces on campus often leads to frustration from car-driving commuters. Of course there are other options: a bike, a scooter, the bus or carpooling with friends.
The Commuter Council was started in 2009 as a way to connect commuter students to campus. Jennifer Violett, Commuter Council staff advisor, said the council was started on a departmental level to keep the group organized and to keep students involved.
“Years ago, there were a couple different student commuter groups on campus,” Violett said. “They were started by students, run by students; but when they graduated, the student interest in the groups kind of faded away.”
Now in its second year, the council is slowly making its presence known throughout the university, said Scott Patterson, public safety supervisor.
“The big thing lately had been getting the committee off and running,” Patterson said. “We’re almost in infancy still.”
Since the opening of the commuter lounge in 2010, Violett said the council has had a more central location to post information and gather ideas from commuters on campus. However, some students who express their interest and ideas to the Commuter Council seem to lose interest.
“People always say ‘Oh, we should do this!’ so we start lists to see what the interest is and it doesn’t go anywhere,” Violett said. “We’re hoping to do some surveys this summer and really push students to get involved. We need to hear from the students what exactly it is that they want.”
One attempt by Commuter Council to combat the parking problem is a carpool sign-up sheet posted in the commuter lounge. Few students have shown interest in starting a carpooling system, though Patterson said this type of initiative could vastly improve parking for commuters.
One way to implement some type of carpooling system, Patterson said, is to start a small group of carpoolers in the apartment complexes around campus.
“We can look at the apartments as a community inside of a larger community and try to find a way to make a system within it,” Patterson said.
For students like this who live near campus, Patterson also suggests riding a bike or walking to school.
“If there’s a big initiative for something like biking, we can buy more bike racks to promote it,” Patterson said. “Sometimes the bike racks are as crowded as the lots.”
Violett said that Metro Transit works well for students who live on or near campus, but students are limited to using Metro during the times it is running.
“If resident students want to do something downtown or on the weekend, they usually don’t have many options other than taking a taxi or driving themselves, especially if they’re of age,” Violett said. “It can get expensive.”
Though Commuter Council encourages all students to try some alternative to parking, Patterson said the option is not there for everyone.
“Nothing is ever one-hundred percent,” Patterson said. “Everyone has their own situation.”
Commuter Council encourages any student with ideas about parking and commuting to attend their meetings, which are typically held on the third Monday of every month. Patterson also updates the Commuter Council Facebook page whenever certain lots will have spots reserved for events.
“We take all kinds of recommendations,” Paterson said. “If its feasible for the university and the university approves it, then we can get something rolling.”
For more information about getting involved with Commuter Council, commuters can visit www.facebook.com/WebsterCommuter or www.twitter.com/WebsterCommuter.