COLUMN: Ramapo Commuters Don’t Measure up to Residents

As a high school junior, I was excited to visit college open houses, and Ramapo was first on my list. I fell in love with the campus, and since then the connections I've made have enriched my college experience thus far. Living only 20 minutes away, having recently received a car and working near home, it was an easy decision to commute. However, I soon realized how limiting of a college experience the school provides as a commuter.

Recent tragedies in the United States have put both student and public safety at the forefront of public discussion. Yet I was shocked to find that some of Ramapo's safety provisions actually restricted a commuter's college experience as much as it safeguarded the resident students.

As a commuter, I've found that my access to the campus after hours is as limited as someone who doesn't even attend the College at all. According to the "Guide to Community Living," a night at Ramapo "begins and ends at 10 p.m." As a commuter over the age of 18, I am considered an adult guest after 10 p.m. on any night, so this requires me to have a Guest Registration Form that I must carry with me as I "remain with [my] host at all times."  

Not only is it necessary that I carry this pass and remain with my host, I must also have my driver's license on me, as my Ramapo Commuter ID is not considered "acceptable identification." This is absurd. What if I'm studying at the library, which is, on occasion, open until midnight on some nights? What if I'm at a campus-sponsored after-hours event? How am I supposed to be integrated into Ramapo's community if my reward for participating on campus is a parking ticket?

This then brings me to Ramapo's sense of community. It's no secret the school has occasionally been labeled a "backpack school," with residents often returning home for the weekends. While the College has recently made moves to change this- for instance not allowing incoming freshmen to have their cars on campus and increasing the number of weekend events- this only works to benefit residents, who are already part of the community.

As a commuter, there has not been as much progress made to incorporate us in the Ramapo community. While I can agree that Public Safety should know if I am on campus overnight, I don't think I should be required to be with my host at all times, especially if I am working on a group project at the library or attending a late-night event. These rules should only apply to non-students; my Ramapo ID should suffice as acceptable identification for on campus activities.

It's time the College considers these policies that affect commuters and makes it easier to integrate them into the Ramapo community. Commuters are still students here, so why are we, as a College, implementing policies that make the commuter "the other?" Are we not all part of the same school?