The communication gap between Taylor and commuters
By Jessica L. Lehman | Contributor
A few weeks ago, a friend and I were in her room doing homework. Seeing someone’s dorm room always interests me because I commute and have never lived on campus.
On her chair lay a white towel with the Taylor University logo and a Bible verse on it.
“Where did you get that towel?” I asked.
“Everyone gets one when they’re a freshman,” she said.
I never got one, and I’m a sophomore.
Taylor isn’t the best at providing information to commuters. Every student gets a handbook with a section on resident life. But there’s nothing about commuter life. I don’t know who to go to when I have a question or problem, and I usually end up pestering my friends (who might not know the answer) or just making do without an answer.
So I didn’t know what to do about the towel. I didn’t know where residents got theirs from, so I didn’t know where to get mine. Was it the PA, DA or hall director? Since I’m not a resident, would I have to go to someone else? Maybe the campus bookstore or admissions?
Or maybe I should wait and see if I get it accidentally. That’s what happened with my mailbox. At the beginning of my freshman year, a friend happened to mention, “You have a mailbox at the campus post office. All commuters do.”
If he hadn’t given me that off-handed bit of news, would I ever have found out about my mailbox? Maybe the mail (mostly brochures) would’ve piled up so much the post office workers would decide that student must not even attend Taylor.
Before starting my freshman year, the DC told me I could buy 15 or 25 meals to use whenever I wanted, whether I ate at the DC 10 times a week or once a week, and I could buy more meals as I needed them. But the housing department told me if I wanted to eat at the DC I had to eat a certain number of meals there each week. Confused, I contacted the housing director. She confirmed that, yes, I actually could do the first option and, yes, this is a communication problem.
I don’t know if my problems are universal to Taylor commuters. Maybe there are meetings that explain these very things to commuters. But when you live at home, you can’t attend every meeting and out-of-class activity.
Perhaps Taylor could add a section to the handbook on commuting, outlining everything a commuter would need to know. Or create a new student leadership position—a commuter assistant who would always be available (by email probably) to answer questions or at least know where to go to get answers. I’m still searching for that towel, but an Echo article earlier this year about a commuter scholarship program, as well as a conversation I had with Shawnda Freer, gave me hope that future commuters won’t have these problems.
Just because commuters live outside the Loop doesn’t mean they should be left out of the loop.