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Have you heard about OCCA?

Attention off campus and commuter students! Did you know a $1.50 fee is automatically deducted from your semesterly tuition? This fee is attributed to the budget of the Off Campus and Commuter Association (OCCA). If you aren’t familiar, OCCA is an organization that collectively meets every Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in Sykes 10A on the ground floor.

Many would agree that a sublime staple of OCCA is, in fact, the food. Members can expect spreads from America’s Pie, Jersey Mikes, Boston Market — you name it! Prior to the start of meetings, students will sign-in on the secretary’s laptop, via RAM Connect. As a general rule, students must attend three consecutive general assembly meetings to obtain full membership.

Meetings begin with introductions from the executive board, board of director reports and an open floor for anyone in the club to use their voice. Lunch is followed by a planned activity for anyone who wishes to participate. Activities vary from whole group to small groups; we enjoy anything from Oreo cookie tasting to “Mafia.” Activities are themed for specific meetings, like our “OCCAtoberfest.”

“OCCAtoberfest” was a collaborative assembly meeting with the WCU German Club. The food was German cuisine, which featured Schnitzel and onion pizza; it was a tremendous hit!

Speaking of themes, OCCA’s Thanksgiving celebration will be held at the Nov. 20 meeting. Expect a spread with all of your holiday favorites from Boston Market: turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, corn bread, macaroni and cheese, etc. Stop by to feast with friends and possibly view the classic, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”

The majority of WCU’s student body classify as off-campus or commuter students, and therefore deserve a “home-away-from-home.” Luckily, that can be found in Sykes CSI! Free drinks and snacks are available at distinct times throughout the week. Check in with the executive board office, in the CSI, for more information.

OCCA treasurer Sristi Fazal hopes for each member of OCCA to end their semester with at least one or two friends…

Forming bonds, inclusion and creating a safe space are three of OCCA’s most prominent goals. To add more on the essence of OCCA, I spoke with OCCA secretary William Plotts, who commutes from Media, PA.

“It’s a really good way for commuters to meet other commuters and make friends. It’s pretty hard to when you’re going to class and going home,” said Plotts. Plotts encourages students to venture out to an OCCA meeting, and to bring friends along.

Similarly, to Plotts, OCCA’s Vice President, Alexis Barfell, believes it is hard to make friends when stuck in a lecture room. Barfell continuously works on ways to advertise meetings and events via flyers or word of mouth, at least two weeks in advance,

OCCA treasurer Sristi Fazal, from Clifton Heights, PA, also has a goal. In our conversation, she mentioned that she hopes for each member of OCCA to end their semester with at least one or two friends or acquaintances. Fazal strives to promote student engagement and interaction during meetings and events.

One student I conversed with, is a prime example of what the OCCA and e-board work to achieve every day.

Junior English major, Shannon Montgomery, begun living off-campus this semester. “It’s been really nice to have a place to go to hang with fellow off-campus students,” said Montgomery. “Events like the Murder Mystery Dinner and movie nights are fun especially since events like Rams After Hours occur late at night when off-campus and commuter students may not be around.”

Montgomery appreciates that there is a place for off-campus and commuter students to meet up since they are always on-the-go.

From experience, I can assure you that the atmosphere at general assembly meetings are cradled with comfort. No matter what, the executive board and Off-Campus and Commuter Services (OCCS) staff will go out of their way to find you a seat at the table.

If you want to devour a free lunch and mingle with your fellow commuter pals, stop by on Wednesdays at Sykes 10A (unless stated otherwise)! There are three general assembly meetings of the semester remaining. The last one, Dec. 4, will comprise of our “de-stress” fest, just in time for the dreaded finals week.

OCCA will also host mini events Monday through Thursday during finals week: late night Insomnia cookies in the library, breakfast in the academic quad, a pizza lunch in the CSI and a Panera dinner in the library. Rev up those appetites!

Want to stay up to date with OCCA’s dates and times? Reach out or follow their Instagram: @occa_wcu.

Madison Starinieri is a second-year student majoring in English education and special education. MS882527@wcupa.edu

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