Commuter students find new ways to bond amid COVID-19

Satchmo%27s+Lounge+in+the+Danna+Center+has+been+a+go-to+hangout+spot+for+commuter+students+at+Loyola+in+the+past.+This+year%2C+students+are+exploring+other+options+to+avoid+congestion+amid+COVID-19.+Photo+credit%3A+Michael+Bauer

Satchmo’s Lounge in the Danna Center has been a go-to hangout spot for commuter students at Loyola in the past. This year, students are exploring other options to avoid congestion amid COVID-19. Photo credit: Michael Bauer

Gabriella Killett

While the coronavirus pandemic forced students to be at home since March, commuter students at Loyola, who mostly travel from their family homes to go to school, had a unique perspective as many continue to live at home.

Crystal Roa, commuter student association president, said that most first-year students she mentors through the organization mentorship program are ready to take on the college life experience despite the many evident obstacles of living during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’ve all been telling me, ‘I’m tired of staying at home. I didn’t have a graduation. I didn’t have a prom. Now, I’m at that age where I just want to do this,'” Roa said.

Roa hopes that the CSA can offer an outlet for those first-year students experiencing college for the first time during a pandemic.

Roa, along with the rest of the CSA’s board members, has organized trivia nights every Wednesday via Zoom to have a social get-together and promote community bonding virtually.

Roa said she’s happy to have a good group of leaders in CSA and that they all work well as a team.

“We honestly work all together,” Roa said.

Roa said it’s been hard not meeting in person, especially since many commuter students are used to hanging out in Loyola’s open spaces. Roa’s favorite spot was the library, where, in previous years, she’d hang out with her other commuter friends.

“It’s hard, but something we’ll have to get adjusted to because who knows how long this is going to be,” Roa said.

Despite the major adjustment, Roa has managed to keep a positive attitude.

“It’s pretty cool that we’re the first ones (working through the pandemic), and we’re just exploring what we can expand to for the other commuters that are going to be on the board next year so they can get an idea,” Roa said.

Roa said that reducing on-campus housing has increased CSA involvement. Now, some members are from out of state but need to commute due to being forced to move off campus.

“They’re probably 10 times more lost at how the city works or where to go, especially how things are,” Roa said.