Commuters. They’re the people who drive slowly behind you while you walk through the Great Hill lot on your way to Moakely, hoping you’re walking back to your car so that they can take your parking space. They’re the people who walk around campus carrying multiple bags and an extra large Dunkin’ Donuts cup. They’re the people that get all the names of the residential buildings mixed up. They’re the people that make up most of this school’s population.
I happen to be one of these people and after commuting to Bridgewater for a little over the semester now, I have learned what I like to call the 3 C’s of commuter life: car, coffee, and career.
Transportation is essential to a BSC commuter. Whether it be by car, train, your friend’s car, or simply your own two feet, getting too and from Bridgewater is easily one of the biggest issues on campus. This section is mainly for the majority of students who drive their own cars to school. I don’t know if I’m the only person that’s realized this, but why are all the commuter lots in the most inconvenient and hard-go-get-to places?
First off, we have the Lower Great Hill lot (East campus) across the street from Crimson. This is a purely pedestrian-run parking lot, so unless you want to wait for 45 minutes while students non-chalantly walk to class not recognizing how much gas you’re wasting just sitting there, you should try to arrive/leave this lot about 20 minutes prior to a class block ending.
Then there’s the Spring Street lot: the closest commuters can get to West campus without paying for the Boyden lot parking pass (an extra $120 per semester). There’s a bus that runs through this lot pretty frequently, but don’t count on it stopping to let you on. I lost track of how many times it drove away while I was 20 feet from the door walking towards it. As you walk towards West campus from this lot, you have to cross a pretty awkward crosswalk that’s complete with rope fences and multiple signs telling you that you better use the crosswalk… or ELSE. Regardless, most people like to work some fun risks into their day and J-walk this busy road.
And of course, there’s my personal favorite lot: the Burnell (not the staff-only, but the student one). Since it’s the smallest commuter lot on campus, but located in the only spot that doesn’t require you to hike up a mountain for 10 minutes before making it to a class, getting a spot is competitive serious business. Beware of the blind spots and remember to keep a hand on your blinker. If you see an open spot and you’re within 20 feet of it, flash your blinker to ward off the other student drivers. Heck, I’ve even see carpoolers send one of their passengers out to stand in a spot in order to save it.
Call me crazy, but I don’t have a mealplan and I have never once eaten in a BSC cafeteria. I have nothing against the cafeterias and I’ve heard that the food is quite good, but as a commuter, it’s hard to find time between classes, homework, and my part-time job to enjoy a meal on campus. Plus, trying to meet up with both resident and commuter friends for lunch is nearly impossible since everyone is on a different schedule. This “coffee” not only refers to the bold, blended bean drink, but all forms of refreshment for commuters on the go.
So where/when do I eat? Unfortunately, whatever is on the way… which is usually a mixture of stuff packed from home, drive-thrus, and convenience stores. If you happen to take a ride down Spring Street and onto Route 18, you’ll notice that you are bombarded with every fast food chain known to man. This is not a good thing, and if you don’t gain your “freshman 15” in the school cafe, you’ll do it here. I’m not innocent, unfortunately. Apart from the unhealthy side of this, it also tends to burn a hole in your wallet.
Even though the economy is a little shabby right now, a good percentage of commuters and residents alike have part time jobs. The only difference is that commuters jobs are often longer hours in harder-to-get-to places. For example, my commute is about 45-minutes to an hour one-way. My job is in my hometown, so in order to take classes, participate in campus life AND work 20 hours per week, I have to make a really busy, complicated schedule.
Commuters are forced to pick up 8am classes and night classes (which randomly cost $800 more, by the way) just so they can fit in a few hours of work. It’s hard, but we manage.
It’s kind of funny how there’s always that ONE commuter in one of your classes who hands in everything late simply because he/she “had to work last night.” Come on, you know who I’m talking about.
SO, WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
The truth is, none of these “issues” are life-threatening, and being given the option to commute is privilege, but since BSC IS mainly a commuter school, it only makes sense that steps could be made to help eliminate these issues. For example, in terms of parking, perhaps it’s time to switch around some of the signs- open up some normally-almost-empty faculty lots to commuters, maybe tell the buses to slow down a bit, and how about hiring some crossing guards to put at crosswalks during passing times? Food issue? Well, the “fast food circuit” is just something commuters will have to overcome on their own. Job scheduling problems? I suggest commuters should have first dibs on picking a few class slots- especially commuters who work 20+ hours per week. Also, I understand that night classes cost more because less professors and faculty are here after dark, but… $800? Seriously?