NIU should do more for commuting students


God is trying to tell me something.

Either I’ve been in college way too long and my brain is turning to mush, or I shouldn’t commute anymore. With college prices rising each semester and gas at $20 a gallon, I think I should just stay home.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels the occasional isolation from peers due to commuting.

“Typically, commuter students have to balance much more than most students, like traffic and family life,” said Jill Vambito, director for Commuter and Non-Traditional Student Services.

When I first started college, not many people commuted, and wondered why someone would drive that long for a class he or she didn’t want to go to.

According to NIU’s Commuters Web page, about 87 percent of nationwide students commute to school. And now 87 percent of students know how much of a pain it is to get to class with your sanity intact.

Commuting to classes is hard and draining. Whether it’s driving to classes everyday or going up to your parents’ house on weekends, winter weather is by far the worst condition to do anything in, except for snowball fights.

No matter when you have classes, it will be snowing. A lot. And people will undoubtedly drive like they’ve been living in Florida for the last 20 years.

Beyond weather, commuting to NIU has become tricky, since more commuters are signing on and the parking spaces are diminishing. To get to class on time, students often have to leave earlier and earlier so they have a better chance of getting a space before somebody else snatches it. Many times, I’ve seen students with yellow parking permits driving into the visitor lot and paying more money to get a space they should already have. It doesn’t seem fair that students have to change their schedules around so they have a better chance of getting a parking space they paid for.

If you ever enter the parking garage bent on merely getting something from your car, be prepared to be stalked and to tell people you aren’t actually leaving. He or she will smile, politely wave a “thanks” and drive by, only to have the next car in line do the same.

It’s uncomfortable trying to switch books in your car while someone is slowly driving by, watching your every move, waiting for those keys to go into the ignition. As soon as you enter a floor, the cars swarm around you like sharks, waiting for their next bite.

Obviously, commuting has some benefits. Students realize they don’t have to live where they can’t afford it, or where it’s less convenient. I’m sure other students have the freedom I enjoy with being able to live where you want, rent-free or not, and having the flexibility of making your own meals.

You can still work where you live and see family and old friends while making new friends at NIU.

“Commuter students have to balance their life at NIU with their family and life at home, which is unique to commuter students,” Vambito said.

Commuting is the only option for some students, and NIU should do a bit more to accommodate us.