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September 26, 2013

Vikes Commute to hold events
To connect commuter students with campus

By Mara Biggs

As Cleveland State continues to become more accomodating for residents the university has not forgotten the needs of commuters, who still constitute the majority of the student body.

Melissa Wheeler, coordinator for the new Commuter Affairs and Student Center Programs in the Department of Student Life, has just launched Vikes Commute, an initiative to increase commuter involvement on campus and to make commuter students feel more welcome. The next Campus Horn will be the first to feature the initiative.

Wheeler is the only person at Cleveland State to ever hold a position devoted to commuter affairs. The idea for the position came about during the reorganization of the Department of Student Life last year.

“Working with commuter students has always been my passion, because I commuted the entire time I went to school, both undergrad and graduate,” said Wheeler. “That was my experience.”

To help other commuters make the most of their experiences at Cleveland State, Wheeler said Vikes Commute will hold a minimum of five events each month, which she has hired six students to help her plan and promote. The events are designed to meet the specific needs of both the younger, traditional commuter students and the non-traditional commuter students, who may be parents and only at the university on nights and weekends. Most upcoming events are still in the planning stages, but Wheeler said a car-decorating contest vening snack, and a family play date among other events have been tentatively scheduled. Students who attend the events will receive Commuter Cash, which they can use to buy raffle tickets at Vikes Commute’s end-of-semester auctions.

Wheeler said she hopes that the initiative will enable commuter students gain contacts who will help them get involved with clubs and organizations on campus and who may live near their neighborhoods, so that they can ride to school together or just to form friendships with students who are close by.

“The hardest part about commuting is that it’s difficult to form a unit of friends,” said Bethany Hicks, a senior English major at Cleveland State. “I feel as if I go to class, go to work and get on the bus to head back home.”

In addition to coordinating events to connect commuters, Wheeler has renovated Commuter Corner, a lounge in room 350 of the student center. The space has all-new furniture, a fridge, microwave and television.

Wheeler also said she will run focus groups beginning in October to learn how to improve Vikes Commute’s events and services.

Besides a feature in Campus Horn, Commuter Affairs and Student Center Programs will be getting the word out about its upcoming events through social media, hot cards and by word of mouth as Wheeler’s six employees meet students in campus parking lots and bus stops to tell them about Vikes Commute. Magnus may show up as well.

“Our big push is starting now,” Wheeler
said, so students can expect to see signs that the commuter program is up and running very soon.

For more information about Vikes Commute, visit www.csuohio.edu/studentlife/commuters/index.html or email to commuteraffairs@csuohio.edu.