Staff Writer

Last month, the Student Government Association set dates to begin and complete construction of the commuter lounge.

The lounge offers Piedmont’s commuter students a microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker and seating for commuter students. It is located on the first floor of Daniel Hall in the Jenkins lobby. 

According to SGA President Sam Thomas, the association has removed the wallpaper as well as textured and painted one of the walls.

“We’re about to take down the rest of the wallpaper, fix some rough spots… and paint the rest of it,” wrote Thomas in an electronic message sent Feb. 2.

Thomas also said SGA will soon begin moving in furniture.

During SGA’s last meeting,  Natalie Crawford, the Director of Student Affairs and Campus Events and SGA adviser, said “the number of commuters outweighs the number of residents, so we need to accommodate their needs as much as we can.” 

However, in an email sent by Crawford on Jan. 30, she wrote that the commuter-resident ratio is 50/50. 

According to Crawford, commuters attend Piedmont for numerous reasons, including living close to the campus.

“Some of our commuters lived in Habersham or one of the surrounding counties prior to making an application to Piedmont College, and some choose to live off campus for personal reasons,” Crawford wrote. 

Piedmont has been an established four year college in Habersham County since 1897. It is the oldest post-secondary school in the region, which may give it more credibility than other schools. Also, according to the Business Office, there is a Hometown Grant that forgives a portion of student tuition for those who live in Habersham and the surrounding counties, which could convince students that Piedmont is a more affordable option.  

 “I chose Piedmont because it was closest to my house and I heard they had a good nursing program,” said sophomore nursing student Jessica Hollis. “I have a family, so I couldn’t have a room as a resident.” 

Most commuters are non-traditional students. 

Commuters are a big presence on campus, composing much of the college’s 2,600 students. Crawford encourages all commuters to “participate in the fullest. All opportunities available to residential students are also available to students who commute.” 

 All student services at Piedmont are offered to all students no matter where they live. This is includes the student center, commuter lounge, cafeteria, the learning center, and all campus activities. 

“I have utilized the cafeteria and the gym because I practically live at Piedmont,” said Breanna Dykes, a senior nursing major. “I haven’t utilized everything available to me because the nursing program is so intense, I don’t have time.”

However, commuters are not privy to a meal plan like residents. According to Crawford, commuters are encouraged to utilize all the facilities and services that are offered to them at Piedmont. However, commuters can’t scan their student IDs to purchase a meal.

According to the Business Office, residents can choose between a 15, 19 or 21 meal-per-week plan. This covers two to three meals per day.  Because commuter students live off campus, they do not require such a large meal plan. Additionally, a meal plan for commuters isn’t offered. 

 “When a student opts to commute rather than live on campus, the assumption is that the student has access to food at his or her home,” Crawford wrote. 

However, some students are forced to commute as non-traditional students, like married couples, are not permitted to live on campus. 

Commuters are welcome to eat at the cafeteria and pay cash only, which is $6.90 per meal, according to Chartwells. Commuters do have the option to purchase a pre-paid food card where the student loads money onto the card and scans it until it is time to reload. 

At the rate of $6.90 per meal, five lunches per week would cost a student $34.50 per week, which is $138 per month. This equals to over $1,200 per school year. 

 “I used to eat at the cafeteria several times a week, but I’ve been trying to cut back on spending so I’ve been packing my meals,” said Dykes. 

According to Crawford, commuter students who are interested in having a meal plan are encouraged to speak to someone in the Office of Student Affairs. She said that she would like to get feedback from commuter students “so that the staff can determine the level of interest among commuters.”