By Enza Macherone
At one point or another, I am sure that every student, faculty and staff member has been frustrated with the parking situation on campus. As a commuter, I feel this frustration frequently when trying to find a parking spot in order to get to class on time. I’ve recently started leaving my house 20 minutes earlier than usual just to allow time to find a parking spot.
I normally park in the lot for “visitors, students [and] faculty” by the Alumni Gym—if I get there by 8 a.m. If I’m late, I lose my parking spot because it fills up so quickly. I’ve noticed that many students park there and then go to the gym. If these students would just leave their cars in their residential parking lots and walk to the gym (getting even more exercise!), then perhaps the lot would not be so full.
However, the main problem isn’t caused by students, and it is not just with that parking lot. The problem is with almost every parking lot on campus that is designated for “visitors, students [and] faculty.” The number one issue can be seen in the Nott and Seward lot near Yulman Theater and Richmond. Trying to find a parking spot there after 10:30 a.m. is impossible. Why? Because people who do not attend, work at or are visiting Union, park there. The main culprits are the people who park there and then walk over to Saint Anthony’s church directly across the street. I have counted more than 30 separate occasions—this semester alone— where I have personally seen cars park in our lot, and the people walk over to the church. I have even seen the same car frequently park on the “No Parking” yellow hash-lines and the driver and occupants go to the church. I have also seen, on only a few occasions albeit, people park and walk to the bars and businesses across the street from the lot on Nott Terrace.
How is this even remotely fair? When students and faculty are trying to go to their classes and jobs, they have to worry about finding a parking space because people who do not have anything to do with Union take their spaces. On Seward Place, cars of people attending the church block the entrance to the Nott and Seward lot for others attempting to make a left into it from Seward Place by parking in the middle of the street (yes, you read that correctly)! I have had to make frequent U-turns up the road on Seward Place just to get to the other side and then park in the lot.
To exacerbate these already egregious circumstances, the Union administration tells students and faculty to not even park on campus on certain days! The faculty and staff who dedicate their working lives to the college are thrown off campus to accommodate for swim meets during President’s Day and admissions events. Everyone at Union recognizes the importance of admissions events; however, it is simply unfair to literally block off entire parking lots (Alumni Gym lot, the lot across from McKean House and the tennis courts and the lot next to Octopus’s Garden, among others) and prevent people from getting to their jobs and classes efficiently.
Furthermore, given these abhorrent circumstances, Campus Safety tickets students who park in lots not designated for them because they have no other place to go. I am very happy that we have such a dedicated team of safety officers who work to keep the campus safe, but they also need to recognize that there are extenuating circumstances seen everyday on campus where students have lost their parking spots due to people who have no affiliation to the college whatsoever. I understand that there are students who feel that they have a right to park anywhere they wish, but for the students (especially commuters) who are just trying to get to class on time, they need to be more lenient.
Recently, I received a parking ticket for parking in Admissions for one hour while I practiced for a class presentation final, on a day when no other cars were present in the lot and there were not any admissions events going on. The Nott and Seward lot was full, as was the Alumni Gym lot and the adjoining side-street by the tennis court did not have room to parallel park. Where else am I supposed to park?
I love Union. It has been my dream school since sixth grade. But something needs to be done about the parking situation. People who have business at St. Anthony’s church need to be told that the Nott and Seward lot is not a church parking lot, it is a Union parking lot.
Instead of ticketing students who park in “improper lots” for class, Campus Safety should be ticketing the people who take advantage of our parking lot for their own use, parking in “No Parking” zones, and blocking the entrance to the lot.
Furthermore, the administration should stop exacerbating the problem by telling the hardworking faculty and staff that they can’t park on campus on certain days. Union needs to value its own students and faculty more, rather than honoring the people who take our spaces unjustly.