Commuter students receive policy changes in regards to COVID-19

As with everything on the University of Indianapolis’ campus, there have been new changes and policies to ensure everyone’s safety as they continue their education. These changes include commuter students, as they have received new information about how they are to arrive on campus.

According to Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli, commuter students must complete the required health check before coming to campus, just like the students on-campus. However, this is only required if they have in-person classes that day, according to Vitangeli.

“If a student is a commuter that happens to have in-person classes, they would be asked to fill out the health check any day that they’re coming to campus,” Vitangeli said. “If they have … virtual classes [that day], they’re not required to fill that out.”

Another policy change relating to commuters is in regard to residence halls. Similar to how students living on campus cannot visit other dorms, commuter students are not allowed inside of the residence halls, according to Commuter Services Chair for Student Leadership Activities Board and senior social work major Amy Doren. 

In addition to the pre-existing commuter lounge located on the second floor of Schwitzer Student Center, a new commuter lounge space was created this fall, according to Assistant Director of Student Activities Bridget Webster. This space, located on the first floor of the Krannert Memorial Library, replaced a computer lab, according to Doren.

Vitangeli said that space was added because the university knew that commuters may want a space to do virtual classes.

“We added an extra commuter lounge area in the library and tried to expand some places that commuters could be because we knew that with most classes being virtual that there may be some times that let’s say a commuter had a virtual class, but then had an in-person class, then had a virtual class,” Vitangeli said. “What would they do in that instance? Because it’s not like they can go back to their room. We wanted to try to make spaces where commuters could spread out and do that, so the library seemed like a natural location to do that.”

At the beginning of the year, commuter students also received items such as hand sanitizer and UIndy face masks, according to Vitangeli. These items were available for pick up in the Office of Student Affairs or the commuter lounge in Schwitzer Student Center or the commuter lounge in the Krannert Memorial Library, Vitangeli said. 

One concern Vitangeli has is commuter students feeling disconnected from campus, she said. Because of this, a main goal for Student Affairs is to make sure commuters still feel connected to campus through services and providing spaces for commuters on campus, according to Vitangeli. 

Events will also be taking place throughout the semester specifically for commuters, such as a monthly commuter breakfast, according to Doren. The first commuter breakfast will be taking place on Sept. 28 in the library commuter lounge, according to My UIndy. 

Doren also said she plans on having giveaways of commuter-specific items such as car kits and snow scrapers. However, one change that Doren believes will hurt some commuter students is not being able to meet in person.

“A lot of people are off campus right now,” Doren said. “So at least for incoming freshmen, they might not be able to meet their commuter friends like you normally would be, or even like their on campus friends. So it’s going to be a change and it’s going to be really hard for the incoming freshmen, or just anyone who’s new to UIndy. So I’m hoping that having these events and being able to contact them through Zoom or emails or GroupMe helps them find people and helps them feel like they still have someone on campus and helps them still feel connected to campus.”

Another way commuters can get involved on campus is by joining SLAB, the Student Leadership and Activities Board, Vitangeli said. This board is meant to have leadership voices from both commuter and residential students, according to Vitangeli.

“Any commuter student that wants to get involved across this campus, I would encourage them to get involved in the SLAB … that way their voice is being heard,” Vitangeli said. “They can help with programming across campus, and they can help us understand what needs they might have.”

Commuter and junior chemistry major Andrew Paeth carpools with his wife to UIndy. He says that there has not been many changes in how he commutes to campus, other than the health check. 

“It hasn’t really been very different at all,” Paeth said. “Traffic’s been just about the same as it always has been. There’s not really been very much construction lately, so honestly it’s kind of improved I would say.”

According to Webster, commuter students can find a majority of information on the My UIndy website. The website is kept up to date with upcoming events, according to Webster.

Commuter students can contact Webster or Doren directly through their emails or by emailing SLAB at slab@uindy.edu, where their email will be forwarded to Doren, according to Webster. 

“We’ve got a lot of great things coming up this fall semester, Amy Doren is working really hard to make the commuter student experience really wholesome and to let commuters know, even if they are staying at home, that they are still a part of the UIndy community and a big part of it,” Webster said.

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