While most college students opt to live in the dorms or on-campus apartments during their years at RIT, a select group of students choose to live at home or in their own apartments. To combat some of the specialized issues that commuters may face, the Institute began a Commuter Outreach Initiative earlier this academic year.
This program, run by Assistant Director for Clubs and Community Outreach Sarah Griffith, works closely with the Association for Commuter Engagement (ACE) to provide get-togethers and information sessions for commuters and students looking to live off campus. Tamara Orezner, a fourth year Marketing Major and ACE vice president, experienced many of these same problems when she began looking at living off campus as a student from Croatia.
“When I came to RIT I was an international student and I wanted to live off campus,” Orezner said. “I didn’t know anything about laws and contracts because it’s different here than in other countries.”
Griffith explained in an email interview that the initiative serves only commuter students. This focus allows them to seek information from commuters themselves and find out what they can do to help.
“The ACE is located in the Campus Center and provides a lounge location for commuter students, information about living off campus, computer usage for commuter students, locker storage, free coffee, etc.” Griffith stated.
The initiative looks to reach students who commute from all over Rochester, not only those who live near campus. ACE hopes to learn where commuter students live in order to better service their individual needs.
“We are researching what communities have mostly RIT students,” said Orezner. “We are hoping to provide barbeques in those communities to help students engage in their community and meet people, even before they start living there.”
Orezner stated that ACE is determining which apartments are available for students in the process of living off campus. She said that ACE hopes to help locate good neighborhoods for students to live in.
“We are also organizing a ‘Landlord 101’ where we will invite landlords from different communities and to discuss what kind of options students who live off campus have,” Orezner explained.
Some of the issues that the Commuter Outreach Initiative and ACE look to fix are not the issues commuters are thinking about. Monica Rodriguez, a second year Psychology student who commutes from Greece, stated that many of her issues are problems unable to be addressed by the Initiative and ACE.
“In bad weather, no matter how early I leave, I always get to school late,” said Rodriguez, who had not heard of ACE or the initiative. She also explained that finding parking is a recurring problem. “I feel like that should have more parking spaces that are not reserved. They should have parking that’s not for students with reserved spots closer to the school.”
Commuters and students who are looking to live off campus are encouraged to visit the ACE office in the basement of the Campus Center at A650 for more information or to relax between classes.