As the fall semester begins and we kick off a new year, life on campus has officially started back up again for students. During the week, Montclair State University’s campus is buzzing with events and activities hosted by the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) as a part of an effort by administrators to help students become involved in the community and engage with their peers.
However, once Red Hawks leave their last classes on Friday and commuters head home for the weekend, some residents feel stranded on campus with nothing to do over the weekend. Factors like a lack of transportation due to Montclair State’s train station closing on weekends and the large minority of the student population that represents dormers, only add to the sense of isolation these students feel at the end of the week.
Diamari Howell, a junior psychology major, prefers to spend most of her weekend off campus.
“On the weekends, if I don’t have church to attend, I will usually just stay in my dorm or go out with my friends,” Howell said. “We usually go to the mall, the movies, something in the area. [We hang out] mostly off campus every weekend.”
Stephanie Osaah-Asamoah, a sophomore history major, often stays on campus at the end of the week.
“I just like to hang with my friends. When there’s any events going, I ask them to come along with,” Osaah-Asamoah said. “I do think there’s enough events to do on campus weekday-wise. Weekend-wise, there could be more.”
Casey Coleman, assistant director of the Center for Student Involvement (CSI), primarily focuses on planning weekend activities through the department.
“We have a whole budget dedicated towards weekend programming,” Coleman said. “We try to ensure that there’s always something happening Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night. Those come in various forms of trivia nights, open mic nights, some larger-scale programs.”
The CSI is hesitant to hold events on Sundays due to past low attendance rates for events.
“We used to do programs on Sundays, and they were not well attended,” Coleman said. “We surveyed students and found that many students go home, and some students want Sundays for self-care, so we started to shift over to Thursday programming in order to try and keep students here.”
The CSI prioritizes holding events that help resident students feel involved on campus.
“When it comes to weekend programming, we’re trying to think about things that are gonna engage and entice students to come out and be at them,” Coleman said. “We do try to capture and work with some commuter students, but we recognize that Saturdays, by and large, and we have data to back this up, are probably gonna be 80 to 90 percent resident students. So just thinking about innovative ways for them to build social connections.”
A key part of generating a positive campus experience on weekends, Coleman says, is teaming up with students to plan programming.
“It’s a lot of talking to other people, other departments, encouraging people, providing data so people know what’s going on,” Coleman said. “We encourage students, we have a big student staff that helps plan these programs and run them. We also have a co-sponsorship program where we try to work with clubs and organizations [to help] them do their own programs. So really, [it’s] students for students.”
Coleman emphasizes that the best way to stay caught up on campus is online.
“We have a weekend email that goes out on Thursdays, mid-afternoon, drafted by our student staff in conjunction with Student Communications, and it’s opened by thousands of students,” Coleman said. “We’re always encouraging people to follow us @Montclair_CSI on social media for more up-to-date information, to kind of see what we’re doing.”
Coleman also stressed that students should check event listings often.
“I would encourage [students] to check out Engage, which has search features where they can plug in dates or weekends, or just check their Red Hawk News [emails],” Coleman said.
Jazmyn Acevedo, a freshman business administration major, agreed that students should look online to find out what’s going on.
“You just have to follow the right pages,” Acevedo said. “You’re not gonna know about the events if you don’t have social media because that’s where they usually post them. If you don’t know about Engage, you’re obviously not gonna know about the events.”