The Off-Campus Students’ Association (OCSA), a consortium of college commuter representatives, reconnected commuters with campus life last week through a series of free events designed for commuter students.

Commuter Appreciation Week began with a pancake brunch at Victoria College and ended with a casino night at Woodsworth College.

“The thing with commuters is… we aren’t on campus everyday. We can’t afford to be. A lot of us have part-time jobs. We create schedules so that we’re not forced to commute every single day,” says University College Literary and Athletic Society (UC Lit) off-campus commissioner Niroja Thirugnanasampanthar, adding, “Having a week is beneficial so a lot of students can pick and choose which events they want to go to as opposed to a commuter appreciation day because those students might not necessarily be on campus that day.”

Thirugnanasampanthar highlights the OCSA’s goal of making most of the events accessible to commuters by holding them during the day as opposed to at nights — an inconvenient time for commuters.

“It’s hard to stay for extracurriculars on campus because a lot of things are after hours. Once you commute, it’s late getting home and you have little time for other things,” says third-year laboratory medicine and pathobiology student Hannah Kozlowski.

Many of the events were held in collaboration with other student groups, including an open mic night with the St. Michael’s College Student Union, a screening of Moonrise Kingdom with the Cinema Studies Student Union, and salsa and waltz dance tutorials with the UC Lit.

“I think because commuters travel such long distances, it’s nice to be appreciated by the school,” says first-year commuter student Nevoh Masliah, adding, “Travelling two hours and being welcomed to dancing and food is nice.”

OCSA also held a day of 30-minute interactive workshops at Trinity College covering topics ranging from off-campus housing to campus involvement. The workshops included presenters from different student life offices and university resources, and a question-and-answer period.

“The idea was that… information presented would be directly relevant to commuters, with student assistants standing by that could offer their opinions on resources and their experiences using them,” explains Woodworth off-campus student director Aakanksha John. “We hoped that leaving these sessions commuter students would be better equipped to handle issue areas and find better ways to participate in their off campus student experience here at U of T,” she added.

“It was interesting seeing commuters I would have never interacted with… At each event I’d meet someone new, I’d get free food, and I’d have a good time,” says fourth-year kinesiology student Patrick Doc.

“We hope commuters feel appreciated at U of T, feel that their voice is being heard, [and] that their representatives are doing their job correctly. We hope that they’ll get involved and they won’t just commute to campus, go to class, and go home. We really want them to really experience the university life in a positive way,” says Thirugnanasampanthar.