In March 2021, former CSU President Harlan Sands announced “CSU 2.0”, which was originally a plan to increase student enrollment and create more jobs. When Sands stepped down in 2022 and President Laura Bloomberg took office, she re-announced and rebranded CSU 2.0, turning her focus to making CSU a residential campus. The changes have already started to take place, and it’s affecting commuters on campus–hard.
To back-track: in a news story published by The Cauldron regarding a dining hall resolution passed by the Student Government Association (SGA) last semester, Jaden Stambolia said, “The dining hall has 288 seats for students, which only amounts to 13% of the maximum number of students that can be living on campus.” Basically, limited seating was starting to become an issue for students living on campus, among other dining concerns such as unhealthy food options and required meal plans that start at over $1,000 per semester.
After the administration heard this outrage regarding dining, they expanded their dining area. It can now hold 700 students, but they have taken away a lot from commuters. The second floor of the Student Center used to be an area where students did homework, had lunch and chatted with friends. With the renovation of the dining hall, they gated off that section and are now charging students to pay for a meal in order to just sit in that area if they don’t have a meal plan. The restaurants that used to be in that section, Greens to Go, GrillWorks, and Hissho Sushi, all shut down and were replaced by new restaurants that offer cuisine to students that pay for the dining hall.
According to the Department of Residence Life and Housing, CSU has 1,934 residential students, including international students. To put that into perspective, that’s less than 14% of the student population, meaning an overwhelming majority commute to school.
How does this tie into CSU 2.0? As mentioned earlier, the goal of CSU Administration is to turn our university into a largely residential campus. In spring 2023, not only did CSU announce that they would start charging students for their kitchens, as well as require them to purchase meal plans, but they also bought out The Edge and The Langston apartment complexes. With these attempts at expanding residential life, commuters have been left out.
This semester, they have made it a lot harder for commuters to find a place to sit during their breaks, which can lead to low student engagement in the future. I have noticed a lot of students sitting on the floor throughout different buildings because all of the seating options have been taken. As a commuter myself, I have lunch on campus almost daily and it is a struggle trying to find a place to sit with my colleagues and friends.
Cyenna Ulrich-Cech, a CSU senior studying environmental science and anthropology, shared her thoughts with The Cauldron:
“I’m honestly really disappointed with the dining changes as a commuter at CSU. The restaurants that were there previously were quick and easy lunches and a place to unwind. I don’t want to pay $11 just to find a place to sit and eat lunch when I already have to pay for a parking pass per semester and gas for my car. As a commuter, it’s challenging enough already with connecting on campus and CSU seems to keep making their stance clear about how much they care about their commuter students.”
For the past year or more, commuters and residents at The Edge and Langston alike, which make up a large percentage of the student population, have felt unheard by CSU administration. In the future, CSU should balance how to advocate for commuters and residents equally while they are striving for their goals. These gradual changes are affecting students and can cause a lack of enrollment, worse than what universities are already seeing, or decreased involvement.
Disclaimer: This article in no way reflects the views of The Cauldron and its staff. It only reflects the views of the columnist.