High gas prices call for online classes for commuter students

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Photo by Alijah Hernandez - Editor in Chief

Gas prices surrounding Cal Lutheran’s Thousand Oaks campus.

Matthew Shaugabay, Reporter

With gas prices rising over the past couple of weeks in California and with no indications of slowing down, professors should give commuter students an option to attend their classes virtually. 

An article by BusinessInsider.com said, “Gas prices continue to climb for U.S. drivers, and no state is seeing higher prices than California. The Golden State leads the nation with the most expensive gas at $5.90 per gallon of regular on average, compared with $4.24 for the U.S. overall, according to price trackers from both AAA and GasBuddy.”

We live in a state home to the highest gas prices and home to many colleges and universities that are filled with commuter students who are facing the effects of these gas prices. The school should find a way to accommodate student’s financial needs by offering occasional virtual options. 

While many students and professors may be tired of online classes and prefer in-person interaction, these rising gas prices are causing students to spend a significant amount of money. According to a study done in 2018 on college student employment , 17% of full-time college students work between 20-34 hours a week and 10% work 35 hours or more. 

Not all students have the income from a full time job to spend money so casually, and the jobs on campus only allow students to work the maximum of 15 hours with the pay of minimum wage. The amount students pay on gas is also dependent on the commuters distance and that varies for every student. 

Christopher Torres is a junior transfer student at California Lutheran University from Simi Valley. Torres said he is being affected by the rising gas prices even though his daily drive to school averages between 20-25 minutes. 

“I used to spend around $50-$100 on gas per month, and now I’m spending a minimum of $100, probably closer to $150-$200 on gas this month,” Torres said. 

Being from Burbank my commute to and from school is anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour each day depending on traffic. I love being back on campus but I would also love it if I was able to attend my classes virtually from time-to-time so I could save money on gas each week.

I understand that professors want students physically in the classroom, and that the experience for their class may not be the same virtually. However, for some students, depending on where they live, it might not make much financial sense for them to drive to school multiple days out of the week when they can receive the same material virtually. 

Some commuter students commute to school because they can’t afford housing on-campus. Paying for housing may not be feasible for some students and families, so commuting is the cheapest and most efficient way for them to get to school. Students are also allowed to petition to commute if they are not within commuting range which implies that not all students are commuting within a 30 mile radius.

“Commuter students have to pay for gas and sometimes don’t live in the area. Letting these students attend class virtually would eliminate an expense that isn’t necessary. Most commuter students are working a job and need to fit classes into their schedules. Even student athletes that commute and have a job could benefit from this,” Torres said.

I’m not saying that we should move all classes back to Zoom, because I know how tough it was for students to not see their friends and classmates everyday. 

I understand how Zoom poses a challenge to professors because they have to adjust their teaching style to not be based on face-to-face interactions with their students. 

I believe commuters should be given some leeway by offering the option to occasionally attend class virtually. It doesn’t have to be every single class, but at least once a week, so students can save some gas money.

“I would probably be half and half with attending in person. I would still want to learn the topics in person to a certain extent,” Torres said. 

With California having the highest gas prices in the country, I firmly believe that professors should allow students to occasionally attend classes on Zoom to provide temporary financial relief to students.