24 HOURS DC/UOIT: They come to campus by the thousands daily

The bus loop swarmed with members of the campus community making their ways home, or into the college and university. Photo credit: Madison Gulenchyn

Our group of second-year Journalism – Mass Media students from Durham College have tackled a special project – one we are calling ’24 Hours DC/UOIT’.
On Feb. 5, 2019, the students visited particular areas of the Durham College and UOIT campuses, including north Oshawa, downtown Oshawa and Whitby.
They talked to people, snapped pictures and gathered stories from students, faculty and staff about their campus experiences. This is one in a series of 16 stories from that day.

Near, far, or wherever they are, students and staff somehow find their ways to the campuses of Durham College and UOIT daily.

Whether it’s in a car or on a bus, they find themselves travelling the distance to get an education and do their jobs.

“Sometimes when I get here [to the campus], it takes a little longer to get off the bus because it’s so crowded,” says Carissa Gibson, a student in the pre-health sciences program at Durham College (DC).

Student getting off of the bus. Photo credit: Madison Gulenchyn

According to Gibson, it takes her roughly an hour to get to and from the campus from Whitby. This isn’t an isolated occurrence.

A collaboration between Toronto universities in April, 2016, called StudentMoveTO, found students in the GTA spend an average of 40 minutes, each way, to and from their campus.

Additionally, the study says commuting distance can be one of the factors when students pick courses. Students will tend to avoid early morning and late night courses and taking classes Mondays and Fridays.

Ross Carnwith, who has been the manager of ancillary services at DC, UOIT for six years, adds credibility to the report, noting campus parking lots are busiest Tuesday to Thursday.

“It seems to be [the busiest] between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. [on those days],” Carnwith says. “Mondays are always quiet, because no one wants to come in on a Monday, or sometimes students will re-jiggle their schedules so they don’t come in on Monday or Friday.”

Commencement drive on a Tuesday afternoon. Photo credit: Madison Gulenchyn

The report also discovered, 33 per cent of those who filled out the survey, spend two or more hours per day traveling to and from campus.

DC video production student Chris Shkolnik says he prefers driving or even biking to class, because he can get to the campus faster by bike than by taking the bus.

“The buses [take] half an hour to 45 minutes on a good day. On a bad day, anywhere from an hour to an hour-and-a-half,” Shkolnik says. “Honestly, the hilarious part is, I can ride my bike here, in about 20 minutes, if I book it. The fact that the bus is not only slower, but significantly slower is kind of dumb.”

Shkolnik says one of his bus rides took a turn for the worse when a student forgot her student I.D., and refused to pay for the trip or leave the bus.

“The bus was delayed for like, 10 minutes, because they would not get off of it. We had another bus pass us before she ended up getting off of the bus,” he says.

The 401B bus awaiting its next passengers. Photo credit: Madison Gulenchyn

Maybe buses and cars aren’t so different.

Carnwith, who manages parking on campus, has seen many odd experiences with cars on campus.

“Somebody years ago parked in a fire route, and because there has to be someone in the vehicle, they had taped a dummy to the steering wheel, just to make it look like somebody was there. Cars lose their brakes and just start rolling through the lot, that’s happened a few times,” says Carnwith.

It’s not only students who park their cars in the campus lots.

Sonya Winkworth-Chmatil and Lindsay Smith are both staff members at UOIT who drive to the Oshawa campus daily.

Both staff members are from the Bowmanville and Newcastle area, racking up a total of at least 30 minutes of commute time each way.

Sonya Winkworth-Chmatil and Lindsay Smith, both staff at UOIT, agree that driving is the easier route to take to campus. Photo credit: Madison Gulenchyn

“I park over at Campus Corners, I used to park over in Founders lots two and three, but crossing the road there is very dangerous. You have to be very careful, it tends to be very busy over there,” says Winkworth-Chmatil, who works in accounts payable, UOIT finance.

Smith, an academic skills coordinator at the UOIT Learning Centre, says her most difficult parking issue was when the Ontario college strike happened in the fall of 2017. Picketers slowed down access for motorists trying to get on the campus.

“I do remember parking was difficult then, but also it was a strike so I respect people who were doing that as well,” Smith says.

Both of them agree, when you drive to campus it is easier, and there’s not much to complain about.

Whether it’s driving or busing, crowded buses or taping a dummy to your steering wheel, transportation is something the campus community depends on, to get from point A to point B.

Students getting off of the 401 bus on campus. Photo credit: Madison Gulenchyn