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St. Thomas should accommodate out-of-staters more

By , Reporter  |  Friday, April 27, 2012 3:22 PM

Most St. Thomas students don’t understand what it means to be away from home. In fact, as a Tommie Ambassador, I know that the admissions website publishes in its frequently asked questions that 62 percent of St. Thomas students attended high schools in the metro area.  ops-logo11-300x2971

With that said, a majority of students will never experience the problems of an out-of-stater, but that doesn’t mean problems unique to us should be dismissed. In fact, I think there are several minor issues that St. Thomas could easily amend to attract more students from outside the Twin Cities.

No matter which way you look at it, airfares and gas prices are outrageous. I expect that. I would also expect, however, that professors might relax attendance and test policies for students that travel for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter breaks.

Last Thanksgiving, I purchased a ticket well in advance to fly home to Detroit on a Tuesday, a much cheaper option than flying the night before a holiday. Imagine my grief when my professor announced a large test on the Wednesday that I was scheduled to miss. Thanks to price discrimination and the untimely announcement, I had to pay more than $200 in fees and walked through my front door at 1 a.m. on turkey day.

Another problem I face is summer storage. My roommate and I agreed to purchase different things for our room before school started. She paid for the futon; I paid for the smaller commodities like the refrigerator and TV. But with the end of the semester approaching, I’m realizing that I can’t make multiple trips from my room to my house.

It’s not unheard of for universities to offer services to students who don’t have a way to transport everything easily, and I’m sure St. Thomas doesn’t use all of its facilities over the summer. For a small fee, I’d be more than willing to let the university keep a few things behind while I’m back in Detroit.

I know I’m not alone in my desperation for out-of-state student services. A friend from Wisconsin used the light rail from the airport to Nicollet Mall, returning the day before Spring Break ended. She planned on using the St. Thomas shuttle back to the St. Paul campus, but to her dismay, it hadn’t been published that the shuttle wasn’t running. Instead of waiting for Godot, she accepted a ride from a friend of an acquaintance she had met at the stop. She insisted that the driver was a kind and interesting soul, but I was concerned that a ride from a stranger outweighed the cost of a $30-plus rush-hour cab ride.

Finally, I think several St. Thomas students can unite on a common issue that I’m often confronted with: cafeteria hours during academic breaks. Don’t get me wrong, compared to the old cafeteria, The View has glorious opening hours. As a student living on campus, however, I wasn’t quite sure what to do when all Dining Services closed at 3 p.m. the Friday of Spring Break. I know the Dining Services staff deserves a well-earned break, but I still had more than 24 hours left on campus and no transportation services or food.

The fall midterm break doesn’t allow me enough time to visit home, and the cafeteria was only open the Sunday night before classes resumed. I would have no qualms if Davanni’s recognized me as “that girl who shows up every break,” but it would be a more satisfying use of my money to eat a meal that I paid for at the beginning of the semester instead of spending extra money during breaks.

The above frustrations don’t compromise my excitement about being an out-of-state student. I love my experience being away from home, I enjoy meeting those who also hail from different areas of the country, and I’m always up for an adventure around the Twin Cities when my close-to-home peers bring their cars. The way I see it, St. Thomas has the potential to draw more students from the East and West Coasts and slight improvements and services could help attract them. A more drastic measure would be to allow overnight guests of the opposite gender, but I’d be wholly satisfied with any of the less dramatic tweaks.

Anastasia Straley can be reached at stra0669@stthomas.edu.

This item was posted in Opinions and has 4 comments so far.

4 Comments

  1. Laura Blaser
    Apr. 30, 2012 10:39 AM

    I ditto all of this, especially thanksgiving and those midterm breaks, its simply not enough time to validate my 6 hour drive home.  I am now a senior, and I have made no progress in changing these schedules.

  2. Nick Wood
    Apr. 30, 2012 2:30 PM

    Finally someone wrote about this issue! Being 5 hours away is not hard but its far from easy. I wish professors were more willing to let you take tests sooner or turn assignments in through Black Board. Something needs to change.. 

  3. Stefan Wolf
    Apr. 30, 2012 3:35 PM

    I think you have some legitimate points…EXCEPT when it comes to taking off early for breaks.  The academic schedule is set up well ahead of the start of the semester.  Students should expect to have obligations through the last day of classes, and make travel plans accordingly.  The professors’ jobs are to teach every day of the term…they are in no way at fault if they decide to use all of the available class time for lectures/assignments/tests/etc.  If you are from out of town, make your plans based on the official academic schedule, and accept the consequences if you choose not to.  

  4. Ben Watson
    May. 15, 2012 9:33 AM

    I agree Stefan, academic schedules are set up very early and do give us plenty of time to plan ahead, but believe that the point Anastasia is trying to make here is that even with early schedule disclosure, UST don’t ofter consider the needs for those traveling out of state.  I myself haven’t been able to spend every holiday with my family because I didn’t want to miss classes to travel, but if I didn’t skip class, it would be spending a glorious 15 hours with my family at the cost of 12 hours of commuting round trip.  UST is getting better though, with the 4 day easter break, i do believe they are finally starting to consider the needs of the out of state minority 

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