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While the newly-minted class of 2021 gathered for the first time in their dorms on the day of con­vo­cation, a smaller group of stu­dents gathered in Slayton Arboretum: com­muter stu­dents.

Although most stu­dents live on campus, 17 stu­dents commute in from the sur­rounding area, according to the dean’s office. Not living in the dorm, the stu­dents said, presents plenty of chal­lenges, making it hard to form friend­ships during meal times and on-campus events.

“Freshman year is hard for everybody,” junior Morgan Channels said, “but then you add the chal­lenge of being a com­muter.”

So Channels, who com­mutes from Hudson, Michigan, decided to do some­thing about it: She held an ori­en­tation just for com­muters in the arboretum.

Channels came up with the idea during her internship this summer with the Kendall Contact Center, which required her to do a pre­sen­tation about what change she wants to see at the college. Channels said she was inspired by her own ori­en­tation expe­rience, where she noticed that when the freshmen go to dorm activ­ities, com­muters just go home.

Around ten stu­dents attended the ori­en­tation, which was the first of its kind. Con­sisting of com­muters from all grad­u­ating classes, the group exchanged numbers and parking tips. Channels also made sure the new stu­dents got their welcome bags — a gift nor­mally left for incoming stu­dents in their dorm.

Sophomore Victor Beeker, who also com­mutes from Hudson, Michigan, said he would have appre­ciated some­thing similar when he was a freshman. Not having a dorm made it dif­ficult to form friend­ships, he said.

“Espe­cially in men’s groups, they have a loyalty to their dorms,” Beeker said. “In general, the campus is inviting. They aren’t inten­tionally excluding you, but there is a barrier there.”

Angela Lashaway ’95, project manager for the college’s business improve­ments department, attended Channels’ pre­sen­tation. As a student, Lashaway com­muted from Cambria, Michigan, and she said she often felt dis­con­nected from campus.

“You just always felt a little bit sep­a­rated,” she said.

Lashaway said she hopes the school keeps doing the ori­en­tation.

“Channels is obvi­ously pas­sionate about it,” Lashaway said. “Com­muters are often over­looked as a segment of the pop­u­lation.”

Channels said she just wants the ori­en­tation to be a resource and under­stands the chal­lenges for com­muters will still be there.

“I con­sider it a gift to be at home,” she said, “but that trans­lates to having to work harder.”