The Office Of Commuter Life Braces For ‘CLAW’

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Published September 8, 2021
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The Montclarion
The CAMP mentors pose in front of the Red Hawk statue as they prepare to welcome students back to campus for the first time in over a year. Photo courtesy of Antonio Talamo

The melodic sounds of student chatter and bodies shuffling to and from classrooms now fill Montclair State University’s campus.

What could have been mistaken for a scholastic ghost-town last semester, the campus is now covered in new commuting students looking for their ways across the unfamiliar grounds. Amongst these students are Commuter Assistance Mentorship Program (CAMP) mentors, helping commuting students in any way they may need.

CAMP is a program that matches upperclassmen commuters with first-year commuters to assist with their transitions to college. The members and coordinators of CAMP are embracing Commuter Life Appreciation Week (CLAW) with open arms this semester. CLAW, which is held for one week each semester, is known for its fun activities such as Golf Cart Karaoke, spa days and movies in the quad.

The Office of Commuter Life helps commuters get involved and have a full university experience. Photo courtesy of Amanda Alicea

The Office of Commuter Life helps commuters get involved and have a full university experience.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Alicea

Antonio Talamo, the coordinator of Commuter Life, is especially excited about the new activities planned for the semester.

“You will see hybrid models of certain events for commuters who may not want to stay on campus,” Talamo said. “For example, we are co-sponsoring a trivia event that occurs every Thursday that is live online and in person. During CLAW, we are also very excited about our superhero-themed event which is going to feature different stations to represent the various Marvel heroes.”

CAMP mentor Samantha Ascenzo, a sophomore business administration major, began working with the Office of Commuter Life as a mentee when she was a freshman and is now helping other incoming commuters.

Samantha Ascenzo hopes to spread awareness about events and activities on campus. Photo courtesy of Antonio Talamo

Samantha Ascenzo hopes to spread awareness about events and activities on campus.
Photo courtesy of Antonio Talamo

“A good majority of people commute and a lot of people tend to think that commuter students can’t get involved so I want to break down the stereotype,” Ascenzo said.

Madeeha Kathawala, a sophomore business administration and finance major, is also a CAMP mentor with similar goals to Ascenzo.

“I initially wanted to get involved because I wanted to be a resource and a friend for the incoming freshman and transfer students,” Kathawala said. “I want to be there for people who are starting their college journey with the Montclair [State] community.”

Madeeha Kathawala aims to bring the commuter community together and encourage new friendships.

Madeeha Kathawala aims to bring the commuter community together and encourage new friendships.
Photo courtesy of Antonio Talamo

With the university finally able to host in-person classes, some CAMP mentors hope it will motivate commuters to stick around after their classes.

CAMP mentor Mario Rodriguez, a sophomore exercise major, hopes to bring some motivation to new commuters.

“Of course no one is going to argue how nice it was to roll out of bed and get straight to class in a matter of seconds but over time, it could take a toll on our mental health,” Rodriguez said. “Our overall goal is to break the commuter stigma of strictly going to school and leaving [as soon as possible].” Rodriguez said.

Mario Rodriguez is a big Marvel fan and is excited for the superhero themed event on Sept. 20. Photo courtesy of Mario Rodriguez

Mario Rodriguez is a big Marvel fan and is excited for the superhero themed event on Sept. 20.
Photo courtesy of Mario Rodriguez

The Office of Commuter Life and its coordinators also supply commuters with various resources on campus to ensure a smooth transition to university life.

“I want our commuters to feel valued and cared for because we put a lot of thought into our events,” Talamo said. “We want them to find comfort in knowing we are there for them and we care.”

These resources include locker rentals, commuter pit stops throughout campus, laptop rentals and even parking information, which Ascenzo often stresses to new commuting students.

“Last year parking was fine because there weren’t a lot of people on campus,” Ascenzo said. “This year everyone is back to in-person classes so make sure you are giving yourself ample time.”

Students can find the Office of Commuter Life housed within the Center for Student Involvement. Each mentor has office hours for any mentees or interested commuters to stop by with any questions or concerns. Commuters can also reach out to any mentors or coordinators by emailing msucommutes@montclair.edu or reaching out to them on their Instagram page @msucommutes.

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