The commute gets easier

By Jonathan Leonard

Commuters have the drive to get involved (photo by CarlosLie on Flikr)

Commuter Affairs has been considered an organization on the bottom of the totem pole, lacking resources and often overlooked by the school and students, but that’s all coming to a screeching halt.

With a revamped staff, cushy budget and a completely new vision, Commuter Affairs is looking to make some noise during the 2011-2012 school year.

The change is led by Commuter Affairs Lead Josh Whipple, a senior at FSU who’s been hard at work to bring a bigger impact to the organization. Whipple started off the year by handing out root beer floats in the Ross Street parking lot to get their name out to all the commuters.

“With the immense renovation to the Hammond building, the commuters have lost the Underground Pub and Commuter Café, two places that kept them on campus. So because of that I need to bring some of the events to them,” Whipple said

Commuter Affairs has also reached out to new commuters who are planning on getting their first apartment, informing students what rights they have before signing a lease, along with a Q&A session with guests from the Fitchburg Police Department, Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, and the North Worcester Landlord’s Association.

As for upcoming events, every third Thursday of the month commuters can be automatically entered into a raffle just by filling out a short survey, with prizes including Boston Red Sox tickets. Also, this Friday if commuters attend a focus group they will be entered to win a Garmin GPS.

Whipple says these events are most crucial to Commuter Affairs. “It’s the best way for us to understand what they’re looking for,” Whipple stated.

This transformation all began last year when Whipple was approached by Commuter Affairs to join their team.

“They saw what I did during my time with the Volunteer Center and offered me a position as Commuter Affairs lead. I knew it would be hard to start completely from scratch, but I was up to the challenge,” Whipple said.

In addition to Whipple they’re adding a new manager and have been given an $8,000 budget, much more than in years past.

Whipple has been hard at work planning focus groups and events to spark the attention of the commuters everywhere. It didn’t take long for Whipple’s efforts to catch some attention, but it wasn’t just the commuters who noticed.

One day when Whipple was working at the campus center, Fitchburg State President Robert Antonucci approached him, giving Whipple his biggest boost of confidence.

“He came up to me and let me know that he was impressed with what I was doing here and that he expects great things from us. It felt really good,” he said.

Although the school year is still young, Whipple says he’s happy with how things have turned out so far and hopes that they continue to grow stronger.

“My goal during my time at Commuter Affairs is to see commuters on campus for more than just school; they deserve the true college experience just like everyone else.”

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