New lounge gives commuter students a home on campus

President and Vice President of Commuter Student Council Brian Hatch and Alexa Baugniet cut the ceremonial ribbon with Marisa Kelly, president of Suffolk University

Katelyn Norwood

President and Vice President of Commuter Student Council Brian Hatch and Alexa Baugniet cut the ceremonial ribbon with Marisa Kelly, president of Suffolk University

Commuter students now have a place to call their own, as the grand opening of the commuter student lounge took place Wednesday on the first floor of the Stahl Building. The event marks what many hope to be the continuation of fostering relations between commuter and residential students.

President Marisa Kelly was in attendance, as she cut the ribbon to officially open the lounge, along with President and Vice president of the Commuter Student Council, Brian Hatch and Alexia Baugniet. WSFR DJ’d the event and the space was packed from wall to wall with faculty, staff and students .

“I always want to be able to prioritize those things that will really make a difference in helping students to be able to focus on their education while they’re here, so having a place for our commuter students specifically I think is really critical to supporting you while you are here,” said Kelly in her opening remarks.

The new space has a lounge, a kitchenette with microwaves, sink and fridge. The space included  two flat screen TVs on the wall. In addition, day-use lockers are accessible for students.

“It’s going to let us live life with a little more regularity,” said Lukas Phipps, commuter students senator at large for the Student Government Association.

The lounge was a collaboration with Off-Campus Housing Office (OCHO) and the Commuter Student Council, founded by Baugniet. Through the creation of the council, it became apparent that commuter students wanted a space on campus. After a meeting two months later with President Kelly and facilities, the search for a space began.

“One of our goals for the next year is to bridge the gap between commuter students and residential students,” said Hatch on the role of the Commuter Student Council.

Katelyn Norwood

Before its transformation, the space was a small workout fitness area for employees that wasn’t used often due to the larger Ridgeway Gym facilities. Dean Anne Coin believed the space is being utilized in a more beneficial way to the Suffolk community

“A commuter lounge is great because it will draw students who are like-minded and who are going though the same life cycle. Being able to find a place that’s designed for them… that’s wonderful,” said Coin in an interview with The Journal.

For many commuters, the need for a space was a top priority. With classes, work, internships and commuting, students said it can often be difficult to find a place to leave their backpack and know that they’ll be able to find a seat, especially during finals week.

With the recent addition of residents hall on campus over the years, it is important to understand the Suffolk is still primarily a commuter school. With 75% of the student body commuting to class, the need for space is no longer a hope but a priority.

“It is a ‘hidden gem’ for [commuters]… a place for them to feel like the university recognizes them, that they have committed a space for them to exist and that they can meet other commuter students and build community,” said William Lemos, a graduate fellow working in OCHO.

Commuter student representation is on the rise, especially with the formation of the Commuter Student Council, Commuter Ambassadors and OCHO.

Commuter Student Ambassador Barbara Martins plans events for commuters and make them feel involved on campus. For her, she is hopeful that the lounge will be a place where commuters can not only relax, but also find resources.

“I’m a senior and this space was very much needed,” said Martins. “I think commuters will have a place to come in, to find out about resources and they won’t feel too out of place. There’s always room for improvement, but I think right now this lounge is a clear statement that the school cares about commuters.”