The Pillars of Canisius: CSA props up the commuter population

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By Justin Smith
Assistant News Editor

Last week The Griffin took a look at USA and this week the paper turns its focus to a very different, but very important, pillar of the Canisius community. CSA, or Commuter Student Association, has the task of programming events for one of the most difficult group of students on campus. If the lens is morale, then the question is, how does a campus based organization deal with students who often spend the majority of their time away from the school?

Seniors Victoria Yargeau and Eric Walsh are co-Presidents of CSA, and as such, are responsible for hosting and coordinating the roughly 20 events per semester hosted by the club.

“We do our best to keep a group of students that doesn’t live here involved with what goes on,” said Yargeau.

To entice these weary travelers, the the club’s leadership has come into the habit of providing free food to draw in the a sizeable attendance to numerous events throughout the week. Over the course of a single month CSA hosts PB&J (Peanut Butter and Jelly) Monday as well as two Wednesday morning “Breakfast on the Go” featuring an assortment of donuts, cinnamon rolls, and bagels as well as the appropriate spreads.

“A lot of people really appreciate [Breakfast on the Go],” said Walsh, reflecting on how fast food gets gobbled up.

Other events CSA hosts includes Agape Latte, which brings together speakers and coffee in a relaxed environment; Halloween week, which featuring the popular (and free) Build-a-Bear zombie; Exam Bags, which provide small things like snacks and pens to students during exam week, and a Roller Rink day.

“We take a passive approach on programming,” said Walsh. “It’s something that people can walk-by, it’s a quick, simple thing and then it’s done.”

Yargeau went on to elaborate on this passive approach, citing how CSA moved the time of PB&J from noon to 11:45 so that students could get a sandwich before heading off to their noon class rather miss it because they had already left.

Things like this may seem relatively small, but for commuters they are important. Alex Segelhurst, ’17, is one of the many commuters who finds himself seldom on campus, coming only when he has class and leaving as soon as classes are over. Taking this to the extreme, his Tuesday-Thursday only schedule means that, on average, he is only on campus twice a week.

“I don’t have a strong school spirit,” said Segelhurst.

Yet, even without actively attending any CSA events, Segelhurst still feels the outreach of the organization. When asked what CSA could do to reach out to him, Segelhurst responded that “free food is their best option.”

On the subject of the commuter lounge, both Yargeau and Walsh had nothing but praise for it.

“We’re very excited that it just got painted and it was reupholstered over the summer,” said Yargeau.

However, the commuter lounge has a certain tension to it, primarily, the tension between various student interests.

The often low lighting and general atmosphere of the room make it less conducive to those who wish to use the space for work, while the ample computers and relatively new printer show that it can definitely function as a place to get things done.

“It’s definitely more of a hangout place,” said Walsh, “but there’s always still people in there doing work, so it’s really open for people to make of it what they want.”

Walsh and Yargeau slightly disagree on the issue of student morale. “People can sense that morale is a little low,” said Yargeau. “There have been meetings where we’ve talked about that.”

Yargeau’s explanation is that people are placing academics above involvement, especially as the semester wears on, adding that “there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Walsh disagreed, stating “I haven’t thought of morale as being any lower than in previous years.”

For Walsh, CSA is a crucial support system for the community. “We find a way to include a lot of commuter students who otherwise wouldn’t be,” he said. “It’s a group that’s forgotten about by administration and a lot of other clubs on campus. When people are planning programs they’re not thinking to plan programs for people who aren’t going to be here after the hours of four o’clock or people who are never here on the week-
ends.”

With student retention and school spirit hotly debated among administration and student leadership, CSA continues to play its part in holding up the community. Despite being overlooked commuters are often forgotten because their acknowledged less than should be, commuters are a significant and important part of the school.

They may not be as active in school events as residents, but if The Griffin is to examine school morale, then certainly the morale of commuters should be a factor in the equation.

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