Commuter Club members plan to bring social connections and commuter appreciation to Pitt-Johnstown.
Student Life Assistant Director Jeanne Susko advises the club, but says it will be run by students and elected officers.
With a commuting population of around 1,150, a group of commuter students formed the commuter club in February.
According to Susko, their organizational meeting was held Feb. 12.
“The commuter students have expressed their need and desire to get more connected to the other commuter students on campus,” Susko said.
On Commuter Appreciation Day on Jan. 15, 90 students expressed an interest in a club formation. Seventeen students attended the first meeting.
A second meeting was held March 26.
“Getting involved as a club will give them a format to voice their needs and concerns,” Susko said.
Susko says the Commuter Room in Larkspur 3 basement has been cleaned and prepped for their use.
“The Commuter Room will give them a place to join together.”
Items at members’ disposal include a micro-fridge, lockers and desks. The room also features tables, chairs and a television.
“The Commuter Club will give our office valuable input on planning and running the 2014-15 Commuter Appreciation Day,” Susko said.
Club president Morgan Hritz says she is excited to be part of the club’s formation.
Though the club is just getting started, she says she hopes that, by next year, club activities will be running smoothly.
Hritz says that, as a club, they hope to run a Commuter Appreciation Day in the fall. She credits Susko with getting more updates for the commuter room including a TV, cleaning and beautification.
“The Commuter Appreciation Day this year helped us know how many students were truly interested in starting a club on campus,” Hritz said.
Hritz commutes from South Fork, a 15-minute drive.
“I never felt disconnected with the students. I was able to join up with my old friends and make new ones in the process,” Hritz says.
Treasurer Austin Copenheaver says he plans to keep detailed records of the money the club receives and spends.
“I will give updates of the budget at every meeting and will make sure the other officers know when money will be deposited or spent.
“I will also act as an active member in other decisions that do not involve the financial situation of the club,” Copenheaver says.
“Currently, I do not have a budget set in stone. Since the club is newer to the university, I am in the process of creating a budget,” he says.
Copenheaver says he is working with the other club officers to determine what they will charge for club dues and what fundraisers they would like to hold.
He commutes from Bloomfield Apartments along Theatre Drive, but is originally from York, Pa.
“I hope the club can be successful in making commuter students feel more welcome here at UPJ and to give them more things to do between classes.
“UPJ has many commuter students and that goes unseen. They are just as important to the university as the students who live on campus.
“I want the club to make the commuters feel more welcome and comfortable on campus,” Copenheaver said.
He says his commuter experience has been positive and negative.
“The good thing about commuting is making my own meals and getting away from the college atmosphere at the end of the day.
“On the downside to all of this, I don’t like driving in the snow. It is annoying and dangerous, and the roads are never plowed well enough,” Copenheaver says.
Though social disconnect may come with commuting, like Hritz, Copenheaver said he was fortunate enough to make connections with other students.
“Luckily, I didn’t feel disconnected from the students who live on campus. I lived in a dorm last year and met a lot of great people who I am still friends with today. Most of them live off campus like I do, so I always feel welcome and connected.
“That is just my experience. There may be others who weren’t so fortunate and feel left out. I want to change that because everyone needs to feel welcome and connected, especially since we are all students here at UPJ,” he says.