Commuter challenges from peers to parking


Students who commute lead different lifestyles and also face some obstacles.

They do not have the memories of making friends with people in their unit freshman year. Maybe they did not even eat at Atherton Union every day with their new friends. 

These commuter students log extra hours in the car. They cannot walk across the hall at midnight to take study breaks with their friends.

Senior Magy McKary has been commuting since she was a freshman. She said commuting presented challenges when she was adjusting to college life freshman year.

“Everyone would hang out with their roommates because everyone is so excited about dorm rooms and units,” McKary said. “It was a lot harder to make friends freshman year.” 

However, as she got older, she said commuting became easier and she has balanced school and home more.

“It is an adjustment going from year to year,” McKary said. “It is different from when I first started freshman year to now. I have more of a balance on things. Now I don’t see it as something different, mostly because a lot of juniors and seniors live off campus anyway, so it is not that different anymore.”

In order to commute to Butler, students have to live at home with a parent or guardian. The residence life office must approve all requests to live at home as a commuter student.

Commuter students can have meal plans. However, they are not a requirement, which meal plans are for residence hall students.

Meal plans, McKary said, help bridge the gap between living on campus and living off campus. 

“Meal plans change the whole game, because if you have a meal plan, you can hang out with friends,” she said.  “I used to have lunch and dinner here every night, and then I would stay here until about nine.”

However, parking is sometimes an issue for commuters. Commuters can only park in the lot between Residential College and Irwin Library or at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Otherwise, they have to pay to park at a meter, costing a dollar an hour.

The lot between ResCo and Irwin Library often fills up before 9 a.m., Bill Weber, assistant police chief, said. 

“It is prime, so obviously anyone who is a commuter is going to gravitate to there first,” Weber said. “Because, if you have a class in Jordan, you are going to want to park there instead of at Hinkle.”

Students who live at home and drive to class are not the only ones who qualify to park in commuter lots. Weber said residents of Butler Terrace, University Terrace and Christian Theological Seminary are also allowed to park in the commuter lots.

The police department does receive complaints about the unavailability of commuter parking. However, Weber said, the inability to find spots does not come from a shortage of parking spots.  

“There are always people that claim that there aren’t enough spots,” he said. “It is not enough spots where they want the spots.”

The construction of a new residence hall will decrease the amount of commuter spots available when ground is broken in the spring.

Weber said commuters will be able to park at Hinkle Fieldhouse or pay to park at meters.

This may affect finding commuter parking spots.

“The only problem is, if they take out other parking areas, all those people will have to park at Hinkle, too,” McKary said.

Because parking overnight in the commuter lot between ResCo and Irwin Library is not allowed, McKary said she had to budget the time she spent on campus because it takes her 40 minutes to drive home to Carmel, Indiana.

“I wanted to stay and hang out with friends,” McKary said. “I also wanted to leave school early enough, so I didn’t have to drive home in the dark.” 

Overall, McKary said the positives outweigh the negatives in regard to commuting.  

“It is not a huge life-impacting thing that people think it is,” she said. “It is just a little hard for starting out, but now it is like nothing.”