By Hannah Moody
Campus life is full of connections: roommates, wall-mates, wing-mates. There are Resident Directors and Residents’ Assistants, and even Assistant Residents’ Assistants—all in place to help foster a close-knit community.
But there is a whole other community outside of the six residence halls of The Master’s College known as off-campus.
Due to the increasing interest in off-campus housing, as well as the growing percentages of off-campus students, TMC is actively pursuing this new dimension to campus life and seeking to meld what were previously two worlds.
“It’s no longer the Master’s community and commuters; it’s a collective approach,” said TMC Commuter Assistant Robert Jensen.
“I could say our vision has just been to really bring the off-campus students on campus and have them integrate with people in the dorms,” said Commuter Liaison Natalie Keoshian.
It starts with a simple change of reference. King Hall is moving away from the term “off-campus,”— removing the unnecessary emphasis between ‘off’ and ‘on’—and towards the term “commuter.”
The push came during the fall semester’s Week of Welcome (WOW), the orientation week for incoming students at the beginning of the semester. Jensen, joined by Keoshian and under the direction of the Director of Commuter Life, Steve Ross, sought to create a strong community for the commuter students.
“Starting WOW week we made sure we had a high energy,” Jensen said.
Jensen and Keoshian’s larger-than-life personalities helped to rally the commuter students into a community. King Hall also graciously offered the commuter freshmen the opportunity to stay in Oak Manor during WOW, free of charge. This gave them not only the freedom to participate in the week’s activities, but also helped them begin building relationships with other commuter students.
After that, Oak Manor has hosted events such as the Pumpkin Smash Bash. This was not an “off-campus” event, but an event held for the whole school, off-campus.
“They [the on-campus students] could see it as an actual extension of campus,” Jensen said.
That was the point. Jensen acknowledges that commuter students will never have the experience of a dorm. A huge effort is made to keep the commuter community aware of what’s going on in campus life via a text-alert system set up by Jensen and Keoshian.
“It’s kind of our way of running down the halls and knocking on the doors and letting them know what’s going on,” Jensen said.
Keoshian says they have also been intentional by bringing along commuter students to events held in the dorms, which allows them to connect with people on another level and enjoy the unique cultures of each dorm.
Jensen is passionate about working with the commuters because he knows how easy it is to go unnoticed. He’s been a commuter student for each of his three years at the school. It’s not easy, he says, to think that not having a dorm to back you up makes you somehow less involved or connected.
But Jensen believes the college has much more to offer than academics, and that driving off campus after class doesn’t allow you to experience the half of it.
“It’s not so much getting them to have pride in their dorm—because we’re not a dorm,” he said. “It’s about having pride in The Master’s College.”
Hannah Moody is a TMC communication major.