A new student organization was launched on campus this academic year to help give greater opportunities to commuter students. The Commuter Program Council (CPC) is a group that aims to give commuter students and their residential peers fun, entertainment-based programming as well as events to learn about on-campus resources. CPC events are available for all students and held at time periods intended to be convenient for all campus demographics.
Prior to the Commuter Program Council being formed, events specifically for commuters were planned by Valpo’s Student Life Division. In their first year in the position, Assistant Director of Student Activities Molly Rabe wanted to try a different approach, looking to students for opinions and to help conceive of and organize events.
“So, when I kind of jumped into my role, I felt like it could be revamped a little bit,” Rabe said. “But knowing that I don't know what's always cool or what commuters want, I wanted to loop in some other voices.”
The group tries to host two events every month, one typically being a campus resource event and the other a party or crafting activity. CPC events from the fall semester included a “Commuter Student Holiday Party” on Dec. 15, where commuters could relax and cameraderize with other students, and could also pick up a “winter driving care package” with amenities such as heat packs and an ice scraper.
One of the craft events this year was a Valentine’s Day party that had card-making and cookie decorating. Another was the Pot Your Own Plant craft on April 20. Anna Beres, a junior studio arts major and owner of crafting business Stargirl Crafts organizes these activities, and reflected on the planting activity by noting that the crafts allow students to relax and simply have fun making something.
“I thought it would be a good idea to have kind of a fun but messy craft that people would enjoy and wouldn’t necessarily feel intimidated by,” Beres said. “I understand that not everybody is super artistic or creative, and so I felt like having the plant event would be a larger outreach to the community.”
Beres noted that Pot Your Own Plant was successful, with CPC planning a follow-up for sometime near the end of the year.
“We had a few boxes leftover of plants. And we had run out of pots,” Beres said. “So, that's why we're like, ‘yeah, we're definitely gonna do another event here soon.’”
In addition to the entertainment-based programming, the organization also hosts Coffee & Chat, a monthly event where students can get introduced to campus resources. The genesis for Coffee & Chat was a survey that Rabe emailed at the beginning of the year to commuter students.
Rabe said that the event showed that many commuters expressed a desire to know about services on campus, such as commuter dining plans.
“I did a survey with the commuting students, and overwhelmingly, people seemed interested in getting connected to resources, specifically,” Rabe said.
In addition to the aforementioned Pot Your Own Plant, CPC is also planning an End-of-the-Year Pizza Party, though the date is currently undetermined. Although the group is winding down with the semester ending, anyone interested is welcome to suggest ideas for and join the organization next year.
“I think like, if you are a commuter who is wanting to meet other commuters, and also has an interest in just meeting up with a group once or twice a month, and getting to see familiar faces, getting to know those people - it’s nice,” Beres said. “It’s really exciting because everybody's happy that they're at the events and you get to meet even more people. So, it's just really bringing the whole community together, including the commuters, especially.”
For anyone interested, more information on the Commuter Program Council and its events can be found on Instagram via @valpostudentlife or the “Commuter Connection” newsletter.