Kristin Cole ‘21
With over 5000 undergraduate and graduate students, and the largest freshman class to date, Merrimack College seems to grow bigger and better each year. While the college is taking strides to accommodate a larger student population, they have also put a significant effort in providing a comfortable space for commuter students, which make up over a quarter of the student population. The brand new Commuter Lounge is one of Merrimack’s most recent efforts to create an inclusive environment for commuters to study, relax, and mingle with their peers.
Located on the second floor of the Sakowich Campus Center, the Commuter Student Lounge has numerous amenities for all commuters. There are high tables set with pens, pencils, highlighters, and other staple office supplies, a printer, copy machine, and multiple private study rooms suited for both group and independent work. The study rooms vary in size to accommodate a variety of groups, with the larger rooms offering Apple TVs and white boards in order to help with homework or group projects. The Commuter Lounge is not only a space for academic endeavors as it offers lockers, a soft-seating area with a TV and video game consoles, Apple Airplay, a kitchen area with snacks, a coffee-maker, a microwave and a refrigerator.
Located in this new lounge are Liz Kew, Assistant Director for Off-Campus Residential Services and Housing Operations, and Eric Uhl, the Graduate Fellow for Student Communication and Engagement, who are both willing to help students with issues and questions.
Tiffany Costello, head commuter advisor and Vice President of the Commuter Student Association has already seen the impact this space has had on commuter engagement. “Attendance at events has increased significantly because we have the lounge,” Costello says. “Now that we have a new space on campus for everyone to meet up, it’s easier. More commuters want to be more engaged because they have their own spot.”
In addition to this new space, the Commuter Student Association (CSA) recently held the Commuter Student Appreciation Week, which offered various activities each day in the new lounge. Commuter coffee, paint night, succulent planting, and a commuter family dinner were some of the many activities offered to show appreciation for commuter students. The activities are not limited to one week, though, as they have also offered multiple night events since the lounge opened in October: pumpkin painting, fall food and crafts, cookie decorating and movie showing, candy and chats, gaming and pizza, and a Boston Bruins watch party. For the rest of the semester, the CSA is planning a bingo night, a Christmas party, and an off-campus trip.
Phoebe Chestas, a commuter and transfer student, feels that the lounge and new commuter events have helped her find a community of friends here at Merrimack. “Having a commuter lounge has increased a sense of community amongst many of these students and I have met a lot of people I wouldn’t normally come in contact with,” Chestas says. Commuters may live off campus, but this new lounge and engaging activities are valuable ways to make Merrimack feel like home for everyone.