USC alum, Eddie Yen, graduated in 1997, but can relate to challenges of current student Andrew Orozco. Both have experienced the struggle of what it's like to be a commuter student. Yen commuted from Pasadena and Orozco from Pico Rivera. Both of these drives to USC should take around 25 minutes, but they quickly turn into an hour with traffic.
The reason for commuting was because they both couldn't justify paying thousands more dollars when they could live at home.
Yen lived on campus his first year of college, but his parents decided it would be cheaper for him to commute, so he did.
He had made friends during his first year, but when he started commuting he said, "I was surprised how hard it was to make friends and stay in touch with the friends I made my first year."
Yen joined many clubs and a fraternity, but he never really meshed with those groups. Yen described, "I never really experienced what a weekend at college was like."
Orozco, who is a transfer student from UC Davis, still struggles with feeling like he is actually part of the USC community, but he tries not to think about it. "I'm going to be miserable all the time, so I just focus on school and my job working for the USC Football team," he explained.
Orozco said his job helps him feel less like an "outsider," but he still struggles to maintain friendships with people he has met on campus.
"Commuting, working, and classes take a toll. By the time the weekend comes I am drained and focus on homework, and I don't have time for my friends or myself," Orozco emphasized.
On top of the social difficulties, Yen and Orozco stated if the university offered amenities for commuter students like lockers, refrigerators, and microwaves, it would have helped them with their day-to-day routines.
Yen and Orozco both feel that the university has not done a good job to take care of its commuter students. They expressed how having a lounge on campus to store their belongings, such as books and food, would help tremendously. Other universities such as New York University, Santa Clara University, and University of San Diego offer lounges and or amenities for commuter students.
Dr. Ainsely Carry, the Vice President of Student Affairs, said that "this topic has come up before and students can use any of the lounging areas inside the Ronald Tutor Campus Center and throughout the campus."
But some commuter feel the university doesn't provide enough amenities that would immensely help students throughout their day. The spaces Dr. Carry mentioned don't have amenities like lockers, microwaves, and refrigerators. Dr. Carry added he understands the difficulties that the students have and is going to bring it up to USG.
But Orozco is skeptical any changes will be made. "They [the university] don't care about us [commuter students], he said.
USG responded to Annenberg Media and said, "USG has advocated the need for a Commuter Student Lounge for three years now. This would be a space specifically for commuter students to have access to lockers, refrigerator, and space to hold their belongings when they come to campus. USG passed a proposal for this space and are now waiting to figure out where on campus we can have space allocated for this use."
While there is hope for changes to help make commuter students' lives easier, there is still no timeline for when these developments will take effect.