by HALEY BURNSIDE, Asst. Editor
Given the immense population of commuter students at Manhattan College, it is important that the College addresses concerns and questions of this community. A new position titled director of commuter affairs has been created to provide assistance to these particular students.
According to vice president for student life, Richard Satterlee, the commuter population at Manhattan College is a large one.
“This student population represents about 45 percent of all Manhattan College undergraduates, and I think as such it is important that these students have a voice in student affairs to represent their concerns,” he said.
Marilyn Carter, the new director of commuter affairs, has taken on this role. Carter’s new office was officially opened in Kelly Commons this semester. Carter’s position is entirely dedicated to providing assistance wherever it is needed for commuter students.
“My chief goal is to make commuters feel at home at all times,” said Carter.
Carter approaches her job with a key philosophy that helps her to best provide services to the commuter students at Manhattan College. Both Carter and Dean Carey use this outlook in their work.
“I have worked with Dean Carey, Dean of Students, throughout the years and we share a common educational philosophy which is to assist students as much as possible,” said Carter. “Being admitted into college is just the first stepping stone. Students must learn to navigate this maze called higher education.”
Carter’s position was created specifically for the purpose of helping students in this navigation process.
“The Dean recognized that there are expectations to be met by students. However, not all students are equipped to handle an academic or non-academic issue. Anxiety especially for freshmen can set in. Dr. Carey understood this and he approached the upper administration with the idea of creating Commuter Services and Outreach,” explained Carter.
“My designated role is to listen to students, advocate for them as well as to facilitate the outcomes. I am their link to all other offices on campus. This does not mean that I will let students become comfortable in the sense that they will not carry out or follow through with an issue. My role is to point them in the right direction,” said Carter.
In terms of goals for the next semester, Carter has a few in mind.
“This semester I am hoping to start a committee of representatives throughout the college. Their role would be in an oversight capacity. This is a new venture for the college and we need stakeholders,” said Carter.
Additionally, Carter has already launched a rideshare system for commuters.
“I will be monitoring the 511 rideshare to see how many students are actively using it. Commuters asked for such a program, we have delivered and now they must access it,” said Carter.
Her other goals include bringing digital textbooks to campus and establishing a mentor program specifically for first year commuter students.
Carter believes that the location of her office will provide commuter students with easier access to resources for addressing their affairs.
“My number one goal is to get more commuters involved in this office as well as the Commuter Student Association. Hopefully my move to Kelly will put me in further contact with students,” said Carter.
Faculty and administration members both seemingly understand that there are certain difficulties of being a commuter. According to Satterlee, schedule conflicts can lead to a number of problems for these students.
“Most commuter students have challenging schedules. They often are balancing a difficult course load with commuting a significant distance to campus each day,” said Satterlee. “On top of that, we know that many commuter students hold part-time jobs in order to help pay for school. Because of this we find that many commuter students can feel isolated and alone.”
By paying close attention to the voiced concerns of the commuter population, Satterlee believes that Carter’s administration as a whole can help address these concerns.
“We are working hard to overcome these concerns and Marilyn is doing a great job of connecting students to one another and to important resources on campus. We know we still have a lot do but I think she is off to a great start,” said Satterlee.
Members of the Commuter Student Association, or the CSA, are very pleased with Carter’s promotion.
Rabae Ali, a business major and the vice president of the CSA, now works closely with Carter on student affairs.
“I’ve worked with Marilyn extensively as vice president of the Commuter Student Association and other projects such as the Commuter Chronicle (the Commuter Newsletter new as of last semester!),” said Ali in an email statement.
Ali is particularly excited about Carter’s promotion.
“Marilyn has been a joy to work with as she truly cares about commuter students and has been a huge advocate for our voice and our concerns amongst the administration as well as the general student body. She is always trying to do more to reach the commuter population and address any issues that we have,” said Ali.
Ali believes that the relationship between the CSA and Carter will be beneficial and productive in the future.
“Ever since her promotion to director of commuter services and outreach, it’s been a joy to work with her and she’s done an immense amount of work in a short period of time with more to come,” said Ali.
Liam Moran, a commuter student and active member of the CSA, believes that Carter’s new position has connected her more to the commuter population.
“She’s certainly well loved among the commuters that know her,” said Moran.
According to Carter, she is a “kiosk” or “one stop shopping” for the commuter’s and their concerns. She described the types of concerns she has dealt with in a lengthy and diverse list.
“I have already taken care of broken microwaves in Leo, parking concerns, broken glass and biking issues as well as the delivery of free newspapers. I have had students that come in with financial aid questions such as how to get a job/on and off campus, award packages that they need help in understanding…Just think of me as a kiosk or one stop shopping,” said Carter.
If any commuter students have any questions or concerns, Carter encourages them to contact her directly.
“All [commuter students] have to do is send me an email and I will email them back (firstname.lastname@example.org),” said Carter in an email statement.