Located next to Shrock Plaza, the current Commuter Student Lounge stands in a central location on campus, with quick access to the education department, union dining and the Good Library.According to Gilberto Pérez Jr., vice president of student life and Hispanic-serving initiatives and dean of students, the lounge has had several locations in the past several years. It was originally in the Welcome Center, but has since been in the basement of Kulp and on the first floor of Coffman. Regarding these previous locations, Pérez said, “None of those spaces really felt as though they were central.”
Ashley Valencia, a Commuter Student Association leader, expressed her opinion on the certainty of their space, saying, “One of the things that we’ve seen throughout the years … [is that] we don’t have our own space; it’s always getting taken up by something else.”
One example she posed is that the storage room by the lounge space is currently holding stuff from other groups as well as the food pantry. Valencia said, “It’s kind of hard too because that’s where we have our stuff, … what used to be ours is now not.”
Valencia and Leslie Ortega, another CSA leader, talked about wanting a kitchen in the lounge along with some more division of the space. “You’d have your own little study area, but also areas where groups can meet or just chill and have fun,” Valencia said.
This sentiment is also shared by Andrea Hernandez Amaro, a first-year commuter student and business major, who feels like the space is great for socializing, but not for studying, saying, “The commuter lounge feels more like a place to hang out than study time.”
Hernandez Amaro expressed appreciation for the space on campus but said her biggest problem is that she gets distracted. “If I know I need to cram this essay, I’ll just go to the library,” she said.
With a similar sentiment, Ortega acknowledged that the lounge is not the best for studying and opts for the library to study. Ortega expressed appreciation for the hominess of the couch set up in the lounge, in contrast to what used to be a lot of desks.
Ortega shared that she utilizes the lounge when she has gaps in her schedule.
While the library can be busy and harder to find a space, Ortega said, “I feel like I’ll always have a space [in the commuter lounge].”
Pérez expressed appreciation for what CSA is doing with events and efforts to connect with students and the strong group of student leaders.
“That’s an exciting piece to making sure that commuter students feel represented when they have student leaders who want to do more engagement with them,” Pérez said.