Commuter Column: Commuter status makes steady progress in past two years

With my junior year almost a quarter of the way over, I find myself looking back at my first two years at Rider, at what I did for the better and for the worse and what I have learned along the way. One of the best things I did was join the Association of Commuting Students (ACS).

For those unfamiliar with the organization, it is the commuter sub-government, an equal of the Residence Hall Association, the Panhellenic Council, Intercultural Greek Council or the Interfraternity Council, as well as a subordinate to the Lawrenceville Student Government Association (SGA).

Although a minority, the commuter representatives are vocal about the concerns of those they represent. Many of the members listen to these concerns during ACS meetings, observe them in the BLC commuter lounge and get plenty of feedback from those they represent. During the 2009-2010 school year, when SGA President Frank Romano proposed converting all student lots to open parking, commuter representatives were among the first to raise concerns, starting with the representatives at a meeting in August 2009 about the subject.

Among those attending that meeting were the current ACS President Christopher McDonald. He and Vice President Gabrielle Mascio were core members of the Parking Committee during 2009-2010 and attempted to determine an alternative to the open parking proposal. While this proposal never went anywhere and parking rules remain unchanged, it is only one example of the involvement of ACS members within SGA.

Another example is last year’s Senator of the Year, Rance Robeson. In addition to serving as a member of the SGA Senate, he is the editor-in-chief of On Fire!!, a literary magazine that caters to Rider’s African-American community. At every single meeting of the Senate, he is present with his booming voice echoing throughout the Sweigart Auditorium, lending his voice to the commuter block of senators. Robeson has also served on several SGA committees.

These examples illustrate the involvement of commuter students within SGA. Under its umbrella, ACS meets weekly at 4:30 on Wednesdays in the Shapiro Board Room of the SRC. The seats go quickly as a few dozen students attend regularly, usually resulting in one or two standing against the wall. The discussion of late has been MAACness.

The event, being brought back after a brief hiatus caused when flooding in Alumni Gym led to the discovery of asbestos in the floor, is a source of excitement for many of the members, in particular Mascio, who is on the MAACness committee as well. Many of the members are also on an ACS-based committee that will help with the set-up in addition to the others who plan to attend.

SGA brings together students from the resident, commuter and Greek populations to accomplish common goals such as university-sponsored events like MAACness. While the contributions of the other branches should not be marginalized, many members of the Rider community need to realize that without ACS, SGA would lose a fundamental piece of its foundation.

– Jess Scanlon

Junior journalism major

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