Commuters speak up

Jayden Hoksbergen —Staff Writer 

Over 100 undergrad students at Dordt University commute to campus every day, driving from as near as a couple blocks away and as far as Sheldon. We carry with us everything we need for the day. Between classes, we sit in Dordt’s various lounges, working on homework and waiting for our next classes, often eating cold lunches we packed before we left for school. 

“I sometimes have up to three hours between classes,” said Heidi Gritters, a senior who commutes to Dordt. “I usually sit in the Bosma Lounge during my breaks.” 

This semester, I have an ideal schedule for a commuter. The longest break I have between classes is one hour. But next semester, I have four classes on Thursdays, starting at 8 A.M. and ending at 9:45 P.M., with nowhere to go in between but Dordt’s lounges. 

Although Dordt has many lounges, the commuters don’t have their own place, unlike Northwestern College in Orange City. 

“Our curriculum library doubles as a commuter’s lounge,” said Hannah Baker, a freshman commuter at Northwestern. “We have the place to ourselves because no one really goes in there. There’s a microwave and fridge, so we can bring lunches and heat them up.” 

The most enviable part about Northwestern’s lounge is the microwaves. My mother is an amazing cook, and as a commuter, I still get to eat her food—easily the best part about commuting. I always have leftovers, but anytime I need a lunch for my school day, I have to pack a sandwich. I have to eat deli ham and sliced cheese on a hamburger bun slathered with mayo rather than warm up my mom’s poppy seed chicken casserole. 

And yes, if I wanted warm food made for me, I could go to the Grille and buy something. But the whole reason I am a commuter is to save money, and that kind of defeats the purpose. 

COVID-19 restrictions have further inconvenienced us commuters. We don’t have dorms to go to in our downtime, and we can no longer crash our friends’ dorms. The Eckardt Lounge is occasionally used for classes, leaving us with even fewer places to go. 

Another new inconvenience for us is that some classes have been switched to online Zoom classes. 

Daniel Kooiker, a sophomore with a 20-minute commute, said that at the beginning of the semester, he had an online class at 8:00 AM and then an in-person class at 9:00 AM. “I had to try to find a quiet spot at Dordt to Zoom into my first class because otherwise I wouldn’t make it to my next class,” he said. 

I’ve also had to attend Zoom classes while at Dordt, and I thought I’d try the Bosma Lounge for one. It was empty when I started. But it kept filling up, and I felt bad talking because I didn’t want to distract the other students. I stayed quiet the entire class—a class that’s graded on participation. 

Of course, the addition of a commuter lounge is not a solution to all these problems. The lounge wouldn’t guarantee a quiet spot for Zoom classes, and encouraging all the commuting students to gather in one place might cause other COVID-related problems. Though the microwaves in the dorms are no longer available for students commuting to Dordt, there is one microwave by the Grille for our use. 

However, I think most commuters would agree that a lounge would be more convenient for us and make us feel more included. 

“It would just be nice to have a home base,” Kooiker said.  

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