UBC launches one-of-a-kind commuter hostel

Life can be tough for commuter students.

Hours can be lost during cramped cross-city bus rides and sitting in traffic jams, and getting to campus for an early-morning class means some students leave home before 6 a.m.

Recognizing the challenges faced by commuter students, UBC has launched a bevy of new programs aimed at helping alleviate the stress of commuting to and from campus.

At UBC’s Vancouver campus, students who want to stay on campus into the wee hours of the night – or get a fresh start in the morning — can get a room on the cheap at the new commuter student hostel at Walter Gage Residence.

Beginning Sept. 21, commuter students can book a private room between Sunday and Thursday for $30 per night. Each single-gender unit is made up of eight private rooms that share a lounge, kitchenette and two bathrooms.

“Students may have a late-night study group, an early morning test, or want to participate in club activities organized in the evening,” says Janice Robinson, director of residence life in Vancouver. “With this hostel they’re able to get up refreshed and start their day on campus.”

The hostel opened last fall to little fanfare, and Robinson says the pilot was a great success.

More than half of the students stay at the hostel because of early-morning academic commitments, Robinson says, with the rest involved in evening events or courses. Students who stay the night are welcome to attend residence events.

During exam season the hostel is available on Friday nights to accommodate Saturday morning exams. Students must book before 5 pm., and can stay a maximum of two nights per week.

At UBC Okanagan, the new University Centre was built with commuter students in mind. Three collegia are meant to provide a home away from home for students who commute.

Each collegium has a relaxing lounge-style atmosphere and is outfitted with comfortable furniture, individual and group workspaces, and kitchen facilities. They serve as places to hang out, eat lunch, spend time with classmates, and do school work.

While the transition to university can be tough on students, they’re not the only ones who need help adjusting.

On Sept. 19, UBC’s Vancouver campus will host Commuter Student Parent Orientation, for parents and guardians of new students to learn more about resources, programs, and student life.

The three-hour orientation session, presented in both Mandarin and English, will suggest strategies for parents to support their child’s transition from high school to university.

Parents of a commuter student face different issues than those of a residence student, says Chad Hyson, associate director of student development.

“In most cases students are still living at home, and there are added tensions around family responsibilities,” Hyson says.  “They’re a student, but they still have a role within the family and it can be difficult to negotiate the two.”

The university has also launched a commuter magazine, Connections, which touches on student life, wellness and campus culture from the perspective of a commuter student.