If you are one of the 1328* undergrad commuters at Point Loma Nazarene University, you may be familiar with the commuter lounge. A place to spend time, study or enjoy a freshly brewed coffee, the lounge is located right next to the commuter student services office.
There, among other commuter assistants, you will find commuter services manager Timothy Black. Along with his team, Black takes care of the lounge. He updates campus chalk boards, makes sure things run smoothly and organizes monthly events, such as Commuter Whatever – a free monthly breakfast – and Lunch for a Buck.
“I try really hard to make sure commuters have everything they need to have a stress-free day,” Black said. “Sometimes that means buying extra power strips so that everyone can charge their phones and laptops, or buying new board games for everyone to play and socialize with others in between classes.”
Black also finds himself answering questions that the school may have not been previously answered.
“Questions like ‘Can I enroll my kids in any nearby preschools easily?’ and ‘If I only commute three days a week, what kind of meal plan should I get? Is a meal plan even worth it?’” Black said.
The commuter lounge is one of the many ways in which the school tries to meet the needs of students who do not live on campus, per Black.
“I’ve never once felt impeded by my superiors from spending too much money on a certain event, or maybe pulling back our efforts a little. This school really has a heart for commuters,” Black said.
Some students share the same kind of enthusiasm for the commuter lounge. PLNU managerial organizational communications and Spanish major Arlene Guerra started going to the lounge during her sophomore year. She wanted to meet other commuters and have a “comfortable place to get your work done.”
“I can just have my lunch there because of the microwave and other utensils that they provide,” Guerra said. “And I can put my food in the refrigerator if I need to. While I’m having lunch, I can get homework done.”
Seniors like Natalia Garcia, a psychology major, feel that spending time in the lounge overall improved her college experience. She said the place helped her make unique memories.
“Most of my friends hung out there, and [although] most of them graduated, I still find people I can talk to,” Garcia said. “One time, my friend Lindsay had an empty box from an event thrown there. I was able to fit in the box. Everyone helped draw a car on it, and I had a box car.”
Other commuters, however, are not impressed with the lounge or the events that take place there. This, according to Black, may have to do with the fact that commuters “are deeply invested in the lives outside of PLNU.”
“Most of us just feel too busy to make time to get involved in a campus where we feel everyone else has already known each other for so long,” Black said. “This has the bad side effect of forming a big disconnect between us and students who live on campus and are more involved in the community.”
Michael Garcia, a sociology major, generally attends Commuter Whatever – a monthly free breakfast – and Lunch for a Buck, but he stays otherwise away from the lounge.
“It feels boring in there, and there’s hardly much to do. It’s so quiet and there’s a lack of life in it,” he said.
Ivey Merrill, a writing major, shares similar feelings. “And there is no cellphone service there,” she added.
*data provided by commuter services manager Timothy Black.