The challenges of the commuter experience at UWT

UWT is home to many students who commute, but does the school do enough to support these students?

UWT is known for being a commuter campus. According to the UWT website, 70% of students commute to and from campus. Does the layout of the campus support this though? As one of those students, I commute over an hour each day. Because of this, I have several factors to think about when it comes to school and getting to and from campus.  

First, parking at UWT. I have touched on this before in another article about student frustrations and it’s still relative. Not only is there extremely limited parking, but most of it is also pay-by-the-hour. I often must arrive early to my classes or pay for parking. The other problem with pay-by-the-hour parking is that there is a maximum of two hours for parking near campus. Many students and staff must leave class to pay for parking or risk getting a ticket and paying more money, taking away valuable class time.  

As a commuter, I also try to keep my schedule to the same two days to be able to save as much gas as I can. Because of this, I am often in class for 4 hours back-to-back and unable to pay for parking again between classes. I could miss class to pay for the parking, but I am also paying for my classes, and I should not have to miss class to pay to park somewhere I am already paying to be at. My point is that the pay-by-the-hour parking needs to be built more around student needs and the student experience. I should not have to pay more to come to school just to park. Another downside to commuting is the energy it takes to be here all day to be able to fit your classes into those two days.  

Third, I spend quite a bit of time on campus when I am there. When I can keep my classes to the same two days, I am often on campus anywhere from six to ten hours. I have noticed that there are very limited lounge areas, especially those in quieter areas. I usually end up going back to my car if I have a break to take a nap and pay for parking. I get overstimulated very easily, so I tend to gravitate toward quieter and less crowded spaces, like the library or an empty classroom. There needs to be more private space for students who commute to recharge, like nap pods or other spaces meant for napping. An article from The Harvard Crimson, Harvard Needs A Nap, mentioned that colleges such as WSU and Harvard have implemented these on their campuses. Harvard is not even considered a commuter school, so why do they have more resources to support commuting students? 

The last thing I try to keep in mind is what I need to get done. There are some things that I must get done on campus, like printing and in-person meetings. I cannot afford to drive to and from campus to print something or attend a short meeting, so I try to plan those things on the days that I already have classes.  

Commuting to and from campus is not always easy and requires a bit of planning. I think that as a self-proclaimed commuter campus, there should be more resources to support that. Things like accessible parking and resting areas are just a couple of ideas that could help commuting students have a better experience at UWT.