UAA is home to nearly 20,000 students, and the cars that blanket parking lots across campus are a testament to that. These cars represent the 93 percent of students that are commuters.
It is a tradition of UAA to identify the student population as both on-campus residents and commuter students. In the past, there has not been much distinction between the two.
However, there are certain benefits the students staying in the dorms or MAC apartments can enjoy more so than the commuter, such as: walking to class, using the Seawolf shuttle and being in the know of events and happenings at UAA.
UAA’s first ever Coordinator of Commuter Student Services hopes to bring these benefits and comforts to the commuters of UAA.
David Murdoch is a dedicated advocate of higher education and enjoys seeing students develop. It is his goal to provide leadership, vision and direction for all aspects of a multifaceted commuter student population.
“Nothing is only residential at UAA,” Murdoch said.
His first hope is to define commuter students and then make UAA a place that is more than simply classrooms for all students.
Improving communication to commuter students, enhancing aesthetics of UAA’s facilities and making transportation more accessible are only a few of the goals of Commuter Student Services.
Murdoch hopes to create a Web site that is a safe and reliable medium for students to find rides and carpool. This Web site could also host announcements and provide specialized communication to commuter students.
The difficulty in finding housing for off-campus students is something that Murdoch recognizes. Commuter Students Services is working on creating a housing fair in the spring.
At this fair students could search for rooms, renters and roommates in an environment less hazardous than Craigslist.
“Commuter Student Services aims to facilitate and foster a sense of community,” Murdoch said.
The potential for this community is something Murdoch sees; he glances at a barbecue and envisions surprise barbecues for students or even warm coffee and doughnuts as students arrive in parking lots.
Student culture is and has been defined by students at UAA. Commuter Student Services, now in collaboration with the Student Union, wants to more firmly establish this culture and bring traditions to light.
With a vast majority of commuter students, and no projects for expanded on-campus housing on the horizon, it is clear Commuter Student Services has a large influence on campus atmosphere and support, many ideas are brewing within that UAA students can expect to become apparent as the year progresses.