On an average fall day, I found myself with an hour of gap before my next classes, while being on campus. To fill the time, I figured I would partake in my typical routine of checking emails, writing stories, and finishing homework.
Unlike residential students, I did not have a dorm room to go to, so I decided to try a quiet place on campus dedicated for gaps like these: The commuter lounge.
My assumption going in was that the commuter lounge was a place that would provide comfortable solace, apart from the other vigors of university activities. Providing a location that would be comfortable and separate from the typical cramped classroom setting.
However, my assumption about the commuter lounge was unfortunately not the case.
The lounge is a doorless, small space, lucky to be larger than a typical classroom. It has roughly 4-5 desks with typical desk chairs, and a row of plastic-esque benches set to posture someone at an awkward 90-degree angle. The room is also small, so as to be quite difficult for any social distancing or to accommodate for COVID-19.
For a university that boasts about their “love” of the commuter population, stating on their website “commuter students are a big part of the vibrant daily life on campus,” and even designating an SGA senator to commuters, the designated commuter lounge is quite a letdown.
A prospective commuter could assume with such a large body of commuter students, and with Elmhurst Unviersity using that as a selling point to come here, that the designated commuter spot would flourish and give a greater emphasis to its commuter students.
On top of the lackluster of the lounge itself, many students are unaware the lounge even exists. The Leader conducted a poll, and out of the 13 students polled, six have said they have never been there, and two said they were unaware there is even such a place.
On top of our poll, SGA had a full discussion in a meeting this semester about how to get more students to come to said lounge. While many suggestions were given during the meeting, my suggestion would be this: Make it into a hangout spot with comfortable seating, lighting, and more space, not another classroom.
When I am finished with class, after sitting in posture chairs, sitting with a straight back, and focusing on note taking, I would appreciate time to plop down into a comfy chair to focus on work, school, or just drink a coffee.
While I recognize this is not the biggest issue to ever face EU, it is ambivalent to the larger issue which is the disregard that EU is demonstrating, regarding their supposed love for the population who do not reside on campus.
Now, EU does have many comfortable spots on campus to hang out, and it would be unfair to disregard those. On EU’s website, a space that is actually used and adored among many is Founders Lounge. There is also the game room in the Roost, the AC Buehler cafe in the library, amongst others. However, they have acknowledged the need for a designated commuter location by having a commuter lounge, and have failed in their execution.
Despite the update they made over the summer of 2021, they should be open to updating more than just the signs on the wall.
For a university that has such a commuter population, the current commuter lounge needs a change, and EU can do that, especially before the brisk midwestern winter months where the outdoors is uninhabitable for school related activities.