It is no secret that Baruch College is a commuter school, with close to 90 percent of undergraduates commuting to and from school and living at home with their parents. This commuter-style campus may sometimes get rid of the sense of community.
Going to a school like Baruch does not provide the same experience that students who attend a SUNY college upstate would get. One of the most obvious differences is the lack of school-owned housing available.
Another physical difference is that there is no traditional, enclosed campus for Baruch students. The blocked-off section of 23rd Street that divides the Newman Vertical Campus and the library is a nice place to hang out between classes, but even that is not restricted to just Baruch community members. It is a public street through which anyone can walk, which is evidenced by the passersby and dog owners who use it to travel.
Perhaps the most noticeable difference between a commuter school like Baruch and other more “traditional” and residential colleges revolves around food. Residential schools typically have dining halls, or places where students receive prepaid cards loaded with meal swipes that they use to get breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, Baruch, as a commuter school, does not give that option to its students.
The con of this situation is that the expense of buying meals during the day falls on the student, who is also likely to bear the cost of tuition and textbooks. Since CUNY schools are all located within New York City, students also may have to bear the cost of MetroCards in order to travel to and from campus.
All of these expenses create a need for an inexpensive dining hall that offers hot food and indoor seating where a student can grab a bite and relax for that 25-minute break in between classes.
Buying food on a regular basis outside of the campus is not cheap, so the addition of a dining area such as the one Baruch had before Avenue C would greatly aid Baruch students.
Of course, it can be argued that students who attend Baruch and the other CUNY schools are fortunate to not have such a wide array in their food options.
Living in one of the most diverse cities in the world means that the food options are limitless, from Indian vegetarian cuisine at Saravana Bhavan to Cambodian food at Num Pang Sandwich Shop. Students attending school in Manhattan are not limited to a dining hall’s weekly schedule and are only a five-minute walk away from a tasty lunch or a weekly splurge.
Avenue C opened last October on the first floor of the Vertical Campus with a mission to make fresher food options available to students without requiring them to leave the building. It is a compromise between a more traditional dining hall structure and a vending machine area.
There are not a lot of meatless options or sandwiches, but Avenue C does offer plenty of snack options. However, students do sometimes desire more filling meals. The prices are reasonable, but the check-out system relies on automated machines, which run the risk of slowing down students if there are ever any technological malfunctions.
As if there were not already enough options off-campus, students can expect more restaurants to start opening up along 23rd Street in the near future. According to an article featured in The New York Post, the street is becoming one of the most bustling streets in Manhattan and is “ramping up its reputation.”
With towers comprised of million-dollar condominiums in development, 23rd Street is attracting more upscale residents and celebrities such as Adele and Tom Brady.
While the area continues to attract richer clients, fancier restaurants might move into the neighborhood. These restaurants probably wil not fall within a college student’s budget. Perhaps this will encourage more Baruch students to from Avenue C.
Baruch, along with a handful of other CUNY colleges, is located in the middle of the bustling streets of Manhattan, which poses countless advantages for the students who choose to complete their undergraduate education here.
It means that these students sacrifice dormitories, dining halls and a tight-knit campus in order to attend a commuter school, which indicates a desire to attend despite lacking the facets of a traditional college campus.
Baruch is not located in a typical “college town,” but there are plenty of ways for students to feel like a part of a bigger community. Joining clubs, meeting friends and going to school-sponsored events are just some of the ways that the students of Baruch try to curate a more inclusive community.
Baruch students are highly privileged to attend school in a cultural Mecca such as New York City that offers a diverse range of experiences and foods.
Although Baruch is not located within a typical college setting, students do not seem to feel a lacking atmosphere because they find that the city becomes their sprawling campus. They are free to explore other cultures and get a unique life experience while attending college.