Winter weather tough on commuter students


Pete Fraser, senior communications major and commuter student, gets into his Jeep in the parking lot by DuSable to head home Thursday afternoon.

By Hailey Kurth

Allison East, freshman special education major, commutes 45 minutes to DeKalb to attend her classes.

To save money, East said she opted out of living on campus; instead she departs from Naperville at 7 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday and stays on campus until 4 p.m.

However, winter weather can cause problems for those who don’t live on or near campus, as students and faculty members run the risk of having to miss class if the roads are icy or snow-covered. Those who commute experience different aspects of NIU than others: some spend their free hours in a special lounge, have to carpool, and have to decide whether the winter roads are safe enough to go to NIU.

East said she has yet to miss any classes due to the winter weather, but there are some variables she considers when making the decision to commute or not.

“It really depends on how bad it’s snowing,” East said. “If it’s pretty bad, I wouldn’t drive out here, which would be bad, but I’d just try to make up the material.”

Induk Kim, assistant professor of journalism and public relations, also commutes to DeKalb every morning. Kim said her usual commute from Chicago is about an hour and a half, but if the weather is bad it can take up to three hours.

“I carpool with others, so it matters if they cancel,” Kim said. “We call or text the night before or morning of to make a collective decision.”

Kim tells her classes that if there is a severe weather warning issued by class time, there is a chance the class will be cancelled.

A lounge located at the lower level of the Holmes Student Center offers commuters a place to warm up and hang out before, in between, or after their classes. Angela Dreessen, director of Off-Campus and Non-Traditional Student Services, said many students take advantage of the mini-kitchen during the day.

“I’m not a really big nap-taker, but I’ve been in here by myself and tried to crash before,” East said. “People do it all the time.”

Dreessen said NIU provides a web-based program for students to offer and find carpools to commute to and from school. She said a student can put their information in and find other students with similar schedules.

Dreessen said although Off-Campus and Non-Traditional Student Services does provide a weather snapshot in their weekly list-serve, they recommend that commuters check the weather before driving.

“Take care of your own safety first, class second,” Kim said.