It must have felt lonely.
One man sat by himself last Friday in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center’s ballroom. The room, as big as some small apartments and complete with its hardwood floors and high ceilings, made the man look like a penny at the bottom of a well.
Next to him sat his microphone and a display on an easel. In front of him sat more than 150 empty chairs.
That man was Parking and Transportation Services Director Greg Sylvester, and the event he was attempting to host was a forum intended to allow students to ask him questions about the future of parking on campus.
Friday was the second of two forum sessions. On Thursday, five people arrived to participate in the two-hour event. Friday, Sylvester waited for about 45 minutes before finally departing. No one showed up.
Sylvester said he was unsure of why participation was so low. He said, however, he went into the event with no expectations.
“I don’t know if disappointed is the word,” Sylvester said. “It would be nice to get a turnout for something like that.”
Sylvester said the reason he did not expect too much from the forum meetings is because he feels the university community is a microcosm of society as a whole. He said most people don’t want to take the time out of their busy schedules to participate in a session meant to hammer out issues.
That coupled with the fact that Fridays are traditionally a day when fewer students are on campus may account for the reason why no one participated in the forum. Despite this fact, parking remains one of USF’s hottest topics.
Sylvester said the turnout doesn’t surprise him.
“I think, to a certain extent, it’s just human nature,” Sylvester said. “It’s a lot easier to complain about something, and I think we all do it to a certain extent.
“You can’t force-feed people. What’s the saying? You can lead (horses) to water, but you can’t make them drink.”
Sylvester said despite the turnout, he feels that holding these forums is a responsibility. He said he wants people to know what Parking and Transportation Services is doing, as well as its future goals.
“My intention was just to provide an opportunity for a question and answer session for myself,” Sylvester said.
The forums were advertised a few days in advance. Sylvester said he could, in the future, make some sort of large announcement to encourage participation. Otherwise, he said, he can’t make people show up.
“For the most part, (at this point in the semester) people have kind of settled into their (parking) routines, (though) I’m not saying we don’t have issues or problems,” Sylvester said. “I’m not a psychologist.”