A Letter to Bryant, from Its Commuters

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To Whom it May Concern,

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: There is a serious issue with parking on campus. Bryant Builds is setting up a new academic building, and while this is great for the future education of Bryant students, it has also reduced the number of available parking spots. This has caused an issue for anyone on campus who owns a car. It has been especially challenging for commuter students. The space available to commuters has been cut down (the new building is taking up half of lot A, which used to be open to commuters), making it challenging to get to class on time. Commuters have thus resigned to getting to campus earlier, and finding spots further away than we would have preferred. However, the recent snow storms has made even that impossible.

As everyone knows, there was a snow storm on Monday, February 7 that resulted in all Bryant classes being canceled, as well as a storm on Friday, February 5. Remnants of these storms were still quite evident in the parking lot Tuesday morning.

If parking was bad before, now it is impossible- literally. Students who have class at 8 am may be able to find parking just fine. However, those who arrive to campus later in the day will find that every single spot has been taken.

For example, my first class on Tuesday was at 11 am. I got to campus 10 minutes early, since this is how long it usually takes me to park and get to class. That wasn’t the case. I spent 15 minutes driving around campus looking for a parking spot- any spot! The commuter lot was full, and there were plenty of other cars driving around aimlessly, looking for spots that didn’t exist. The faculty and visitor lots were full as well. There were also cars parked in makeshift spots along the mediums in the middle of the lot. Between the cars parked where they weren’t supposed to be and large snowbanks, it was difficult to maneuver around the lot. This created a potentially dangerous combination of students rushing to class, and little space to get around each other.

Part of the problem is that snow has not been properly removed from the grounds. There are large snow mounds in some spots, which forced people to park on top of snow banks. There is also snow covering the parking lines, causing people to misjudge the spots and double-park. This took spots away from other cars.

In my case, I was stuck driving around until I saw someone getting in their car to leave. I had to park very far away from the Unistructure- and on top of a small snow bank. I was 10 minutes late to class, missed the beginning of a lecture, and had to apologize to my professor after class. Today was proof that there simply are not enough spots designated to commuters. Part of this issue is resident students parking in the commuter lot. Add in the fact that the parking lot was not properly cleared of snow, and commuters have a huge problem.

Alyssa, a junior commuter, said “Commuters should not have to run the risk of being ticketed when they have to choose a parking spot out of desperation to get to class. If their designated spots along with other favorable parking spots have been occupied by residents' vehicles that haven't moved in weeks, responsibility should fall on those residents at fault. There should be a lot for those who park their car for an extended period of time, leaving more accessible spots open for those who have to park and walk to class each and every day. If administration is worried about calling a snow day because of the cost of tuition, they should realize commuters are missing more class time due to parking.”

 We understand that the changes in parking have been inconvenient for everyone. However, it seems like these inconveniences are most directly impacting commuter students. Since this is a relatively small number of students, roughly 15%, it may be easy to overlook our needs. The parking situation has escalated from an inconvenience to an infringement on our education. With nowhere to park, it is difficult to get to class on time, if at all- personally, I was getting so frustrated I considered leaving campus if I didn’t find a spot soon.

With snow on both last Friday and Monday, we appreciate the difficulties this must have posed Facilities. It is our concern that this will continuously happen after every storm. Are commuters expected to endure this all winter? Last year there was so much snow that it made parking difficult for an entire month. With the limited number of parking spots available this year, an entire month of this is simply not going to work.

Gianna, another junior, said “Each day, I happily commute 30 minutes to Bryant, then 30 minutes home... I normally don’t mind, except when there’s snow on the ground. I have to leave 15 minutes earlier to allow time for: cleaning the snow off of my car, scraping the ice off the windshield, and circling Bryant’s parking lot approximately 5 times to find a spot. During my circling, I glance at the time to see it’s 10:50, and my class starts in 10 minutes. Anxiety ensues. I somehow found an available parking spot and managed to pull in despite the foot of snow inside the spot. I ignored the impending doom of digging my car out of my parking spot until the end of the day rolled around. It sucks that once you find a spot, the struggle doesn’t end there. At the end of the day, you have to dig yourself out of your parking spot or (embarrassingly) ask passerby’s to help you push your car out. (It’s happened to me before, and I’m still mortified.)

What really aggravated me this (Tuesday) morning was seeing the majority of cars parked in visitors’ parking and a large amount of those cars parked in the commuter lot were still covered in snow – which meant Bryant residents had parked there overnight. I understand that the parking situation is a pain for everyone at Bryant, but there really has to be a better solution for commuters. In my opinion, DPS should limit where Bryant residents can park. Additionally, many colleges don’t allow freshmen to take their cars to school during their first year. Perhaps if there is no other solution Bryant should implement this policy as well.”

Despite complaints made throughout the year, little has been done to better the parking situation. DPS should be monitoring who is parking where. There needs to be enough space in the commuter parking lots to accommodate all commuter students. If there is not enough room, then more parking lots need to be added for future school years. On days after a large snow storm, perhaps members of DPS or Facilities should be in the parking lots directing cars. Personally, I would have appreciated someone there telling me what I should do. Instead, I was left to drive around aimlessly for 15 minutes. Also, DPS could help prevent possible accidents in the overcrowded lots.

Stephanie, a senior, told Her Campus that last semester the Commuter Connection lead an initiative to improve the parking situation for all commuters. They found that the issue with maintenance clearing snow is that they are using large machinery that does not work well in small areas. There are non-commuters parked in commuter lots, meaning that there are cars there overnight or on a snow day. Because of the liabilities of damaging a car, maintenance does not use their machines in those areas. For that reason, parking spots are not being cleared.

In the fall, the Commuter Connection spoke to DPS, Facilities, and other members of Bryant community to see if they could claim parking lot for commuters only. Commuters would be issued a certain ticket or sticker, and everyone else in the lot would be towed. They observed that there were residents parked in these lots that never moved, and have been taking up spots for weeks or even months on end.

 Despite their efforts, the Commuter Connection was turned down. The reason for this is that there are technically enough spots for commuters already. However, they are not taking into account the fact that faculty, staff, residents, visitors, and even construction workers park there as well. Bryant has designated one parking lot for faculty use only, which was a good move since there were more faculty and staff than there were spots for them. However, this hasn’t solved the problem being faced by either faculty or commuters.

Other possible solutions the Commuter Connection presented to the University including restricting freshman cars, but that idea was shot down because it is a “selling point” of the school. They also proposed a parking garage, which was rejected because it would be an eyesore on campus.  

Liz, another senior, says that she has resorted to parking wherever she can find an open spot, because designated commuter areas don’t have enough space. She has had to park in the Hall 16 lot and even down at the Townhouses in order to get to class. 

Speaking to commuters, it is clear that this is a widespread problem. Angelo, a junior, said “I was late for my class today because I had to park near the football field. It just sucks.”

These commuters have even noticed seeing students parking at Navigant and Fidelity and walking to campus. Other issues include freshmen parking in upperclassmen lots, and students not knowing which parking lots they’re supposed to be parking in, or where certain lots are. Possible solutions brainstormed by these commuters include putting a parking garage behind Hall 17 for residents, so it will not be the first thing people see when they enter campus. Also, students who are not using their cars for long periods of time should have to park in the back of campus where they aren’t taking spots away from people who need them.

At this point, the parking situation is having a direct, negative affect on commuters’ educations by interfering with our class time. Bryant University costs $19,710.50 per semester. That is $3,942.10 per class, assuming you take five classes. A 75 minute class meets 30 times throughout the semester, meaning each class is worth $131.40. Missing 10 minutes of class cost me $17.52. Now imagine if I lose over $17 every time I can’t find a parking spot. That’s going to add up. Personally, I would rather not be wasting my money. Commuters such as myself would love to work with the University to find a better solution to this problem.

Sincerely,

Bryant University Commuters