Snowy winter proves rough for commuters

Winters can be difficult for commuters at Oswego State as they often navigate bus schedules, icy sidewalks and subzero temperatures to get to campus each day.

Commuter students make up approximately half of Oswego State’s total enrollment, according to Oswego State Commuter Services. These students live in the area and often travel to campus each day for class, work and to see their friends.

Each year, students choose to live off campus for a variety of reasons.

“People move off campus because it’s cheaper. I moved off campus because I was saving thousands of dollars,” Julisbel Lopez, Oswego State junior, said.

Marlon Vassell, a graduate student, chose to live off campus because he wanted his own space.

“It’s good to get a chance to breathe,” he said.

There are several ways of getting to campus that are available to students. The Centro bus system has the Laker Shuttle, which serves the campus. The bus goes all over campus and makes stops throughout the city of Oswego.

Lopez takes a bus to campus every day and said the buses aren’t always reliable.

“You kind of just have to wing it and hope you have enough time to catch the bus,” Lopez said.

Commuting is much easier in warmer weather, Lopez said. But during the winter, she would like to see Oswego State improve its transportation system.

“The only downfall to living off campus is the commute, and that’s only a downfall because of the buses,” Lopez said.

Some students find the adjustment to living off campus an easy one to make. Julia Graham, a sophomore, lived on campus during the fall 2014 semester but moved off campus this semester.

“I honestly haven’t found it much more difficult,” Graham said. “I don’t have a car but many of my friends do. Living off campus can help students become more responsible and independent. It’s just made me plan more.”

Other students choose to brave the wind and snow and walk to campus. Vassell has lived off campus since 2011 and often walks 20 minutes to campus. Vassell said he wishes Oswego would make more of an effort to clear the sidewalks for commuters walking to campus. When the weather is really bad, Vassell sometimes decides to stay home.

“It’s too dangerous out there,” Vassell said.

Weather conditions can also be challenging for commuting faculty and professors at Oswego State. Journalism professor Eileen Gilligan travels 50 minutes by car three to four days a week. Gilligan lives in Baldwinsville, and she has found the travel problematic at times.

“I used to pack a bag to stay overnight,” Gilligan said. “Since I got tenure and perhaps with age, now I don’t think it’s worth it to risk my life and the lives of others by coming in if the weather’s terrible.”

Though there are risks and difficulties associated with living off campus, the experience can also be very rewarding.  Gilligan said she enjoys her time in the car during her commute.

“As a journalism professor, I love listening to National Public Radio, so that’s what I do both ways,” she said.

She has also taken the opportunity to carpool with other professors in the communication department, which is “good camaraderie building.”

“There’s definitely been a lot of pros and cons, [of commuting],” Lopez said. “I’ve been going to my classes a lot more because I live off campus.” She explained that not being able to go back to a dorm room and sleep keeps her on track for attending her classes.

There are many options for students who choose to live off campus and commute to Oswego State. Although weather conditions can make it challenging, students are encouraged to work with the community of Oswego to make their commuting experience as rewarding as possible.