By Ashleigh Smith
Commuters make up about 20% of McDaniel College’s undergraduate program, according to the college’s handbook, and all of them, approximately 340, are represented by one campus group, the Commuter Student Association (CSA). From charities and fundraisers to movie and pizza nights, and from on-campus to off-campus, the members of the CSA are both an active and important part of the community.
“Outside of SGA and the Honors Program, CSA is probably the most important group,” said Stuart Clarke, president of the CSA, “because we represent so much of McDaniel.”
Clarke notes that the CSA is an important tool for fostering active communication with the college because there are so many. The CSA is able to bring issues for commuters to the college’s attention, and the college is able to respond. Because of CSA’s efforts, the new commuter student lounge was established on Academic Hall’s first floor.
“The CSA is a group that provides the source for commuter students to express their point of view and influence McDaniel policy,” said member Steven W. Carney.
Clarke said that the CSA not only offers commuters a community while on campus, but it gives members a chance to get involved off-campus.
“[CSA] isn’t bound to the campus,” Clarke said. “It’s a great springboard for community service.”
One of the biggest events by the CSA this year involved a fundraiser to aid in the care of patients with ALS and other diseases. The fundraiser involved two parts?a raffle and a ghost tour of Gettysburg.
Unlike nation-wide fundraisers, the ALS fundraiser was created entirely by the CSA in honor of the father of member Steven Lowenthal, who recently died of ALS.
“[Carroll Hospice Center] was the first choice because they were helping my father with his ALS and everyone agreed,” Lowenthal said.
Clarke said that at a gross of $200, it is the most successful CSA fundraiser they had. “It may not sound like much, but we are very proud.” The CSA will be writing a check for half that amount to the CHC, which is run entirely on donations and private funding.
Members hope to continue to expand their fundraiser and to hold another in the upcoming fall semester to raise even more money. They also plan on raising money by selling unique bracelets.
Junior Melissa Stickles is a new addition to the CSA. “It is good to have support, a place to go to between classes, a place to keep your lunch until you need it.” She also sees the CSA as a good opportunity to “get to know more people and have fun.”
According to CSA adviser Mitch Alexander, the CSA “gives the commuters a place to feel comfortable and a part of a group without forcing the issue.”
Alexander said, “I wish more commuters would take a more active role in the group. A majority of the commuters just want to go to class then leave the campus. They miss the contacts and relationships that they can build if they reached out to the resident students by just getting involved.”
Members of the CSA are not only active on-campus, but are also active off-campus and in their home communities. Clarke has been a volunteer at his family’s animal rescue since before college. “It’s something I didn’t want to give up for college,” added Clarke.
Carney manages and runs a band, the Lowriders Blues Band, and also works as a repairman and instructor at his family’s business in Harney, MD, called The String Doctor. In addition to music, he also volunteers as an assistant scoutmaster for the boy scouts and at the Harney Volunteer Fire Company, and is a Civil War living historian.
Off-campus, Stickles, a junior sociology major and elementary education minor, is a mother of four children, who keep her busy with baseball practice, field hockey, chorus concerts and PTA meetings.
“Off-campus is hectic!” said Stickles. She also works part-time as a florist.
“I am heavily involved with my community, having started a community center when I was 12,” Lowenthal said. He also works at a deli in Taneytown and helps his family out.
“I am a commuter so I can see my family on a daily basis,” Lowenthal said. “Having parents from big cities, one being New York, family to me is highly important.”
Members hope to keep the CSA growing, despite their full schedules. “Every year it grows a little more,” said Clarke, who has high hopes for the future.
In addition to fundraising, the CSA also holds regular movie and pizza nights, and encourages both commuters and non-commuters to attend. Other information on the CSA can be found on their new website, http://geocities.com/csamcdaniel/csahome.html.