At times being a commuter can feel like you are stuck in a rut. Wake up, go to classes, go to work, then go back home and repeat. The pandemic has only amplified that feeling of being caught in a never-ending routine. I live with three other college-age adults, one who recently graduated from Briar Cliff. I wanted to find out what similarities or differences between the two colleges.
As a commuter student at Morningside, there are times where I feel that I’m not a part of the campus culture here. Besides what I do at the radio station, I’m not really involved with much else on campus. Partially I feel because I don’t live on campus in the dorms. Dorm culture is a huge thing, particularly at Morningside. I feel that Morningside could improve by finding ways to better engage non-traditional students who enroll at the college.
Jonah Egli, a Morningside student who lives in Roadman Hall, had this to say when asked how he feels living on campus. “I think I would have a much harder time getting out of bed and making it to class on time if I didn’t live on campus.” He said with a grin on his face. “Being a wrestler, we have killer early workouts during the season. It’s nice being able to stumble out of bed half awake and not have to worry about driving or anything.” I then asked if he enjoyed living on campus and if he ever considered becoming a commuter student. “Since my parents don’t live in town, it wouldn’t be practical to live with them. I enjoy living in the dorms, but conflicts have definitely come up. All I’ll say is I’m much happier about my roommate’s situation this year.”
While I was attending Western Iowa Tech, I did live in the dorms on campus. They always hosted a variety of events on campus. Everything from your typical comedian, to a local music showcase put on by WIT students. Since I lived on campus, it was always just a short walk to the main campus building to attend these events. Because of that it always felt like there was something happening somewhere on campus.
One of my current roommates Austin Cooper also lived with me in the dorms at WIT. The room and board options at WIT are different than what is offered at Morningside. The housing complex that we lived in was called The Bur-Oak Suites. I would say it shares a similar room layout to something you would see in Lags Hall. They are both four-bedroom apartment-style dorms with a living room area. While Austin graduated with a criminal justice degree and is no longer attending school, I wanted to see if he shared some of the same opinions that I had since we spent both years at WIT sharing a dorm with two other people.
Austin explained “I think we got along pretty well right out of the gate; we had a lot of the same interests. We only shared that stupid Intro to College class that everyone had to take. I was worried at first because those first few weeks were a difficult time for me. My family only lives down in Lincoln, but that was the first time I was living on my own.” When asked if he thought if living on campus impacted his college experience he replied. “Most defiantly, I don’t think I would have interreacted with nearly as many other students otherwise. Living in the dorms is like living in a small community. You form relationships with the people who live on your floor, it was a blast.”
Briar Cliff University alum Lucas Koster has a unique perspective on the aspect of commuting to college as he was on the golf team. “I defiantly felt like I was missing out on some of the same experiences that my teammates had. I’m glad I only committed to Golf my senior year. Those basketball workouts start way earlier than the golf ones that’s for sure. I don’t think I could roll out of bed at 6 in the morning, drive to campus, and get changed all before the 6:30 start time. There’s no way in hell am I going to run hustle drills for being late.” I was interested in finding out what the dorms were like as he lived on campus up until his senior year. “I remember my Freshman year not really participating in many on-campus events. I would hang out with a few guys from the team but not much else. It wasn’t until I reached out and developed more friendships that I started going to parties and hanging out with people. None of these parties were on the campus of course because of the notorious campus security.”
I have been very lucky with my current roommates all being able to get along. Personally, I’m pretty passive and go with the flow. I don’t know if I could say the same for my other roommates as they all have strong personalities. We have developed somewhat of our own culture around the house. As an example, prior to the pandemic, we would often host large parties at our place. We always had ground rules to ensure that they never got too wild or out of hand. If someone had a disagreement, we always felt like we were free to bring it up. If things got too serious, we would settle it like men, by playing a game of Super Smash Brothers or Mario Kart on GameCube.
Being off-campus certainly allows us more freedom than we wouldn’t have otherwise. No quiet study hours, no room inspections, and most importantly we are free to have as many keggers as we want!