There is a new Commuter and Nontraditional Student Organization at Northern Michigan University designed to help students stay connected with the campus community, even if they live outside of Marquette. The program allows students to volunteer as Community Officers, a role similar to residential or community advisers. The only difference: they are located in the cities surrounding NMU, rather than on campus.
The organization was spearheaded by Co-Presidents Carolyn Eagle and Dana Hinckley.
“Commuters make up 50% of the student population,” said Hinckley. “I don't think people realize that half of the students at NMU don't live on campus, and I really feel like nontraditional students tend to feel more isolated from the campus community. I'm hoping that, with this, they can create their own community tied to the university, kind of like NMU's online Global Campus.”
The Commuter and Nontraditional Student Organization is still in its early stages, having just recently been approved by the university. It plans to help bring nontraditional students together through monthly newsletters promoting events going on at NMU's campus, or in the community they're living in.
“There's an official definition of nontraditional students on NMU's website,” said Hinckley. “But personally, I think it's a broad umbrella term for anybody who took a couple years off–or many years off–after they graduated high school before they came back to college. I think it applies to commuter students, students with families or anybody who has a different housing situation.”
Community Officers will meet on Zoom to discuss possible events that they think the nontraditional students in their communities would want to take part in. From there, they will either send an email, or post on some of their planned social media pages, describing the event.
“I want it to be a very formal organization, not necessarily like a laid-back student group that just meets every once in a while,” Hinckley said. “We'll be interviewing the people who want to be Community Officers. We'll ask them questions about what they want to see as part of our group as well as what they want their students, and other commuter and non-traditional students, to get from this group.”
Hinckley said that, at the moment, those who become COs will earn volunteer hours for programs like Superior Edge, but there are plans for more incentives as time goes on.
Carolyn Eagle will be taking the full reins as president of the Commuter and Nontraditional Student Organization as Hinkckley has other obligations. However, Eagle has experience with commuting to NMU that not many other people have.
“I've been on NMU's campus my entire life because my dad, John Eagle, works here,” said Eagle. “I've worked with a lot of commuters and I've heard the call coming from inside the house about a need for community, a support group or something. A lot of people, for instance, want to participate in homecoming but can't unless they're involved in specific clubs that participate. It's really catered to students who live in residence halls.”
She says that the biggest complaint from commuters and nontraditional students is that some events aren't advertised outside of the residence halls, and students who want to participate in those activities aren't aware of them until they've passed or it's too late to make plans. She hopes that this organization will help get the word out to nontraditional students about on-campus events.
Hinckley and Eagle had a recruitment table set up in Jamrich, passing out flyers with QR codes advertising their page on The Hub. However, now that Thanksgiving break is over, they plan on getting ready to fully launch their operation soon.
This club was made with support from Alex Fox, President of NMU Democrats, and the ASNMU organization. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.