UBC Undergraduate Research

Identifying Recreation Gaps for Minority Communities : Upper Level Commuter Students Lee, Emily; O’Neill, Paul; Happeney, Hannah; Wright, William; Vit, Cianna


The university experience is one of tremendous growth and development, often providing diverse opportunities that shape the type of person one will become. On campus recreational programs have been shown to improve a student’s sense of belonging (SSOB) to their campus, which in turn renders a host of benefits to the student such as enhanced psychosocial well-being, academic success, and improved social skills (Buote et al., 2007, Newbold et al., 2011, Chiu et al., 2016). However, there appears to be a lack of participation which coincides with gaps in opportunities provided to particular student demographics. One such minority is commuter students. Comprising 75% of the total 44 565 student population at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the group has been severely underserved in this context. The purpose of this paper is to identify barriers that commuter students at UBC face in terms of embracing SSOB, and provide insight into the kinds of initiatives and resources that should be implemented to enhance their experience. After recruiting commuter students with a commute longer than 45 minutes to campus, and conducting numerous semi-structured interviews and transcribing the audio recordings, the interview data confirmed that commuter students do not feel a strong sense of belonging at UBC, which is reflected in low participation rates in school sponsored activities.. Barriers in terms of access to recreational programs on campus were identified through the interviews, and include limited selection of activities on campus, hardship of work, study, and life balance, limited access to safe space to store belongings which forces students to haul heavy bags all day, and expensive food and beverage options on campus. Using this data, the goal is to provide framework in designing and implementing recreational programs designed specifically for commuter students to maximize their experience and promote physical activity on and off campus. Overall, we will recommend the implementation of lounges tailored to commuter students that will act as a resource to facilitate student engagement and create a sense of belonging for commuter students on campus. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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