What Liberty has to offer for commuter students

On-campus students have a built-in support system in their RAs, RSs, hall events and greater access to other on-campus events. In contrast, commuter students face a challenge when it comes to finding community. So, what is commuter life like?

According to Sheldon Farrington, the director of Community Life, “commuters have to be intentional about their community rhythms,” even more so than on-campus students. According to theater major and commuter student Kaley Hutter, “a con of being a commuter is that you feel a little out of the loop as far as on-campus life.” 

That’s where Commuter Life comes in. Farrington and his team have made it their mission to “create an experience for our commuters in which they have an opportunity to be connected to the campus, to build relationships with one another — as well as our residential students and to connect to experiences beyond the borders of Liberty.” To accomplish this, a new series of events specifically geared toward commuter students has been meticulously planned out. 

“Our new associate director of commuter development has built out a whole schedule for the year, which has turned out to be one event every two weeks,” Farrington said.

Christmas Decorations around campus are photographed on November 27, 2019. (Photo by Andrew Snyder)

These events include a host of game nights, movie nights, pop-up events in the Commuter Lounge, an ice skating social and many more. Two events that Farrington and his team are particularly excited about are an off-campus Introvert Happy Hour and the upcoming Murder Mystery party. Farrington and his team see these events as “an opportunity to express our intentionality and care,” and students have been responding. 

“I really like that we have the Commuter Lounge as a home base on campus,” Hutter said. “I love whenever Liberty does fun stuff just for commuters.” 

Hutter isn’t the only commuter who feels this way, as the turnout for these events “has really blown us away,” Farrington said. One example of this was the Commuter Game Night Feb. 2. 

“Bryce, our assistant director of commuter development, was planning for 30, and before he got there, he was like ‘if five people come, we’re going to have fun,’” Farrington said. 

However, 110 people actually showed up  for the event.

Farrington described it as “standing room only.” Among the big surprises was the fact no traditional marketing had been done. They had solely advertised in the Commuter Lounge. 

The Commuter Student Lounge in Green Hall was recently redesigned and renovated by Jennifer Nasser and photo graphed on November 19, 2018. (Photo by Kevin Manguiob)

“People are still excited to participate in what’s going on in commuter life to connect with others,” Farrington said. “They’re coming and staying and enjoying the experience, so that’s been really encouraging.”

A staple event for on-campus students is  community groups, assigned by hall. Commuters also have community groups, but they don’t always mirror those of on-campus residents. Community groups for commuters are similar to those of on-campus students as they are both “based on the teaching in Campus Community,” explained Farrington. The differences include timing and location. 

“Some of them don’t gather on Wednesday nights and they gather all across our campus, as well as off-campus community groups that meet in various apartments led by commuter shepherds,” Farrington said. 

This way, both commuter and on-campus students get to partake in discussions about Campus Community.

So what is Commuter Life? According to Farrington, Commuter Life is “a place to belong, a people to be known by and an experience to celebrate.” 

Perez is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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