While most students envision college as a new world, free from their parents, some return home to them every night for dinner. For these commuting students, Xavier’s Commuter Activities Board (CAB) offers a peer mentorship program that will help incoming first-years learn how to deal with these challenges that may be overlooked during orientation.
The peer mentorship program, which was first implemented last year, was created when senior Jordan Lobsiger, who now works as a Program Coordinator with graduate assistant for Commuter Services Ryan Spolar, reflected on her experience with Manresa.
“A lot of Manresa at the time was geared towards residential students,” Lobsiger said. “All of it was about how to get along with your roommate, how to manage your money and time now that you don’t live at home… My roommate is my mom. The greatest challenge I faced was figuring out how to navigate a relationship with my mom as I grow independently at college.”
The idea behind the peer mentorship program was to make Manresa, Xavier’s orientation program for incoming first-years, more inclusive to students who may not have the standard college experience.
“The biggest thing is not feeling like you belong through little things, like referring to it as move-in day or (Manresa) being very specific to resident students and just not feeling like you can use these clubs,” senior Chandler Bell, who is a peer mentor, said. “We want (commuting students) to know that everything on campus is for them. We want them to be involved and to enjoy it just like everyone else.”
One of the main goals of the peer mentorship program is figuring out ways to get commuter students involved on campus as students who are not active in the campus community are more likely to leave, according to Lobsiger, who considers getting involved one of the primary reasons that she stayed at Xavier.
“If I hadn’t come home (after Manresa) and told my mom that I hated it, and she (hadn’t) told me to get involved, I might not still be at Xavier,” Lobsiger said.
Bell agreed with the sentiment.
“I would say we’re trying to get them more involved,” Bell said. “If you ask a commuter student (what issues they face), they’re going to say parking because it’s the most immediate thing… While that’s a surface-level issue, the general feeling is not feeling like they belong.”
Bell went on to say that this feeling of belonging comes from students believing that club involvement is something meant for students living on campus.
“Essentially, with (the peer mentorship program), we want commuters to get involved with clubs (and) service because the more students are involved, the longer they want to stay.”
The program is intended as a way not only for commuting students to get involved with extracurriculars, but also as a way for them to feel welcome in the community.
“(Peer mentors) serve to give that specialty basically,” Lobsiger said. “They offer their experiences to students as also traditional commuter students and they’re able to reflect on those experiences and help guide our new commuter students so that we can increase their sense of belonging.”
While this program will be introduced during an optional dinner at the beginning of Manresa, both Bell and Lobsiger believe that all commuting students should come to the dinner, which will take place on Thursday evening.
“It’s just to make commuters feel more included in Manresa and to feel like it’s not something just like for resident students,” Bell said. “(It’s) something for, I guess, everyone.”
Last year, the first year of the program, there were only eight mentors to help guide more than one hundred first-year students. This year, however, there are ten mentors who have gone through extensive training to help incoming students learn how to cope with beginning college.
Students who are interested are invited to the dinner, but for any student not able to attend, they are invited to the Commuter Lounge on the third floor of Gallagher Student Center.
By Kevin Thomas | Editor-in-Chief