When it comes to the first week of fall semester, finding new classes and parking spots are major concerns for students as they make their way back to campus.
Students aren’t the only ones who face a challenge with finding a place to park, however.
William Stephens, a faculty member in the accounting department, created a
petition that is asking Parking and Transportation Services to re-evaluate the distribution of spaces in lot GZ36, the parking lot on Alumni Drive between the Business Administration building and the Communication and Information Sciences building, which was initially designed to be a faculty-only parking lot, but now offers spots available to students.
“For all of us in the College of Business and CIS buildings, we are lodging a very loud and angry response to what we consider to be a very poor decision made by your department,” the petition reads. “When you placed the two rows of student parking in our gold zone lot, you had to know it would result in a real fiasco.”
According to the petition, faculty and staff have noticed traffic congestion within the lot, and students were parking in any spot they could find, regardless of whether the spot was designated as a student space or a Gold Zone space.
“It has also made students quite brazen in their trolling process,” Stephens wrote in the petition. “This morning, the looks and aggressiveness I got from students who were competing with me for the faculty spots was pretty scary. I can guarantee some faculty are going to lose their cool as they confront students parking illegally.”
While an “S” permit costs students $183 annually, a “GZ” permit is available to full-time employees at $450 annually. The higher costs that faculty and staff face to park on campus, combined with the priority for spacing being given to students, Stephens said, “sends a bad message” to faculty and staff.
Jude Oscar, a senior majoring in accounting, said he remembers seeing the lot almost empty most of the year, and thinks students should be allowed to use it.
“I paid $95 (for the semester) for this little sticker and I can barely find parking anywhere on campus,” Oscar said. “I remember seeing these lots last year and they were almost empty all the time, so how are professors going to complain about students actually using it.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had 50 signatures from faculty and staff members, Stephens said.
“We have heard some concerns in GZ36,” Raymond Mensah, director of PATS, said. “(On Monday), we had some challenges there because students weren’t quite sure where to park within the lot. We have a designated area, but they were actually parking in other areas within the lot.”
Mensah said PATS conducted a study to find out what parking areas were being used the most and which ones were not being used enough.
“The data showed that (lot GZ36) was under utilized, so we decided to add some student spaces in there to help accommodate the need for parking in that area, so that’s why we added the student spaces.”
Mensah said in an estimation taken last school year, there were 20,737 parking spaces total on campus.
As of Sunday, the number of non-resident student “S” permits sold by PATS for the 2013-14 school year totaled 13,629 and resident “R” permits totaled 2,044. Gold zone “GZ” staff permits totaled 1,064, and regular staff permits sold totaled 4,216.
“We are guaranteed parking by purchasing these permits,” Stephens said. “We would
understand if they became metered spots, which would generate revenue, or staff spots, but they’ve given them to students who have plenty of other places to park.”
Students who have utilized the spaces in lot GZ36 said they appreciate the extra space, and it is beneficial to them when they have classes in the surrounding buildings.
Alexandra Guinan, a sophomore majoring in mass communications, said this is her first year parking on campus.
“From what I see, people keep their cars here overnight, or they get here and fill up the spots by like 8 a.m. and that’s ridiculous,” Guinan said. “I’m glad they opened up this lot to students because it’s so much more convenient for mass communications students.”
Jermaine Jacobs, a junior majoring in business, said it is his first year parking on campus and it becomes more
troublesome to find parking on campus the earlier in the day he is trying to park.
“I’ve noticed that the earlier the class is the crazier finding a parking spot becomes,” he said. “I like the convenience of being able to park in this lot because all my classes are in the business building or in Cooper Hall so it’s a straight shot for me.”
Additional signs were placed in the lot to assist drivers in finding an appropriate place for them to park. PATS parking attendants were also present in the lot to direct traffic in the area.
After the introduction of additional signs and staff in the parking lot, Mensah said he hadn’t heard any more complaints as of Tuesday afternoon.12