On a late Friday afternoon, the Commuter Lounge is filled with students waiting for their trains home. As I give the lounge a quick glance over, not a single seat is available. I reluctantly resolve to stand against the wall in hopes that someone’s train will arrive soon.
The lounge often becomes crowded at peak times of the day, like when people are waiting to catch their train home or at lunch time.
“It definitely fills up pretty quick sometimes,” said Kimberly Federer, a senior speech, language and hearing sciences major. “Sometimes I’ll find a spot on the floor and just hope for the best that it’s not dirty.”
It doesn’t seem like the commuter lounge has enough space to keep up with the number of people who use the lounge. A university spokesman said an average of 275 people visit the lounge each weekday.
Space constraints, however, are just one way the commuter lounge is not meeting the needs of Temple’s commuter population.
In the past few weeks, a new policy in regard to the commuter lounge lockers has been implemented in which any locks that are still on lockers at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays are cut off. The contents of the lockers are then taken to Temple Police’s Lost & Found.
This policy aims to keep students from continually using the same locker, so other students have the opportunity to access one. The lounge only has 60 lockers available after all, which again doesn’t seem to meet the daily demands posed by the amount of commuters who use the lounge.
Even though this new policy is opening up lockers for more students, it has also dissuaded many students from using the lockers that are available to them at all. Some students like Olena Berchuk, a sophomore economics major, fear their locks will be cut off and their stuff removed.
“I used to use them every day, but since they installed it I stopped using them,” Berchuk said. “That’s quite a consequence to lose your previous stuff when you have it locked, so I’m not leaving my stuff in there.”
The problem with this policy is that locks are getting cut off in the middle of the lounge’s operating hours and, for some, during their school day.
The lounge is open on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. On Fridays, it closes earlier, at 8 p.m.
Senior Director of Student Center Operations Jason Levy, who manages the commuter lounge, said the lock cut-off time of 4:30 p.m. was decided upon based on the hours of the Student Center Operations staff, which are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This policy doesn’t seem fair to students who have classes throughout the day and who may have to be on campus for a night class until 8 p.m. In this scenario, a student would have to run back to the Commuter Lounge on Berks Street near 11th to remove their belongings and lock from their locker at 4:30 p.m., only to be free to use the locker again any time after the lock cut off takes place.
“I feel like less people are using it now because of the fact they take the stuff out and everything,” said Remshah Raza, a junior finance major.
The operations of the Commuter Lounge should not be dependent on the hours of the Student Center Operations staff. The locks should be cut off at night when the lounge itself closes. I don’t expect the Student Center Operations staff, however, to be responsible for being on campus this late. The lounge could benefit from having its own staff on site, even if this staff is made up of only one or two employees.
Raza said she wasn’t aware which Temple facility operated the lounge. The correct hours that the lounge operates aren’t even listed at the space or online.
“I didn’t know the hours sometimes so I Google it, but there’s nothing really on Google now,” Raza said. “I remember asking the custodian. He helped me out with the timing.”
Communication is another area in which the commuter lounge could improve. The creation of a Commuter Lounge website or Facebook page could better provide students with the lounge’s hours, as well as any new policy implementations.
The Commuter Lounge was created so Temple’s commuter population could have their own space on Main Campus. If the lounge isn’t best serving these students, then improvements are needed.
Erin Yoder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.