Making the most of the commuter experience

Shalala Student Center at the Coral Gables Campus. Photo credit: Cecelia Runner

At the University of Miami, being a commuter student does not mean missing out on on-campus life. The Department of Orientation & Commuter Student Involvement (OCSI) offers many opportunities for commuter students to be an active part of UM.

“OCSI facilitates programs and resources to successfully and holistically acclimate all new undergraduate students to the academic and social fabric of the institution,” said Stephanie Fleitas, the Associate Director of OCSI.

OCSI hosts many events throughout the year targeted at commuter students. On Thursday, Aug. 24, OCSI will be having its first commuter student welcome event for first-year students. OCSI also puts on monthly “Good Morning, Commuters!” events where commuters can enjoy free breakfast.

Located in the Shalala Student Center, the OCSI suite has several resources for commuter students to take advantage of, including the Commuter Corner, where students can find items such as deodorant, shampoo and conditioner. The center also has cubbies that are available for rental on a daily basis from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are first-come, first-serve.

Each first-year commuter student is assigned a Commuter Assistant (CA), students that are dedicated to helping commuters adjust to college life.

“CAs specialize in helping off-campus students transition to collegiate academics and find a niche on campus, as well as creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for all commuters,” Fleitas said.

Commuter Connection, a bi-weekly newsletter created by the OCSI office, is sent to first-year commuter students and includes information on resources and upcoming events.

One student organization created specifically for first-year commuter students is the Commuter Council, which was founded in Fall 2021 and is led by the CA and Transfer Assistant team.

“Commuter Council was designed to give new commuter students the opportunity to meet one another while also learning about leadership skills and event planning at the very beginning of their UM career,” Fleitas said.

Applications to join the Commuter Council are available at the beginning of each semester.

Another commuter-focused student organization is the Association of Commuter Students, which hosts social events throughout the year and provides additional ways for commuters to get involved on campus.

The ultimate goal of OCSI is to make the transition to UM as smooth as possible for commuter students.

“We want first-year commuter students to know that we want to assist them with making connections with their peers and UM resources so that they have a positive, fun and successful first year at UM,” Fleitas said.

For more information and updates, students can visit the OCSI Instagram.