If you’ve driven, walked, or even listened to someone who drives or walks around campus this year, you may have noticed some changes in the parking lots. Just before the start of the school year, John Carroll announced a drastic reconfiguration of parking on campus. As a resident with a car, I was as concerned as many people about the new changes. Would there be enough spots for students? Would they oversell parking passes? What happens in the winter when snow piles up and takes up spots?
First, let’s talk about what changes have been made and where everyone is now allowed to park. Basically, residents can park along the perimeter and a couple rows in Dolan’s lot. Commuters now have a section where they can park in Dolan, and Belvoir lot is reserved entirely for faculty, staff, and visitors. All reserved spots and faculty/staff/visitor spots are restricted to no overnight parking, making it really difficult for residents to get away with parking. The new parking map can be found here: http://webmedia.jcu.edu/parking/files/2015/08/ParkingMapNew_081215_Final.pdf
So what’s up with the changes? From our perspective as students, it was hard enough to find a spot before they restricted our parking. We’re concerned. There has to be a reason for the changes, right? Cole Hassay, Student Union Student Body President, said that although he isn’t sure when the idea originated in the administration, they decided to make the changes to parking after a renovation of the Belvoir lot over the summer. “The parking system was reformed because administration felt that the Belvoir Lot was a major asset that wasn’t being properly utilized. When events were held here on campus, oftentimes people couldn’t find parking in the Belvoir Lot. By changing the Belvoir Lot to no overnight parking, administration feels this asset can be used more often,” Hassay said. I understand this.
Previously, the Belvoir lot was open to commuters and residents, with the exception of a couple rows reserved for faculty, staff, and JCU vans. The elimination of this central parking area left students concerned about what parking would be like when they returned to campus for the start of the school year. Nicole Studnicka, a senior commuter student said,“Initially, I was more stressed about parking than I was for the workload in my courses. After spending $300 to park all year, I shouldn’t have to worry about finding a parking spot or having to pay for a ticket simply because there are no commuter spots.” As a resident, I was also concerned. I paid a significant amount of money to be able to find a parking spot, and I want to be sure I can find that spot.
Studnicka and I were not the only concerned students. Hassay said students have created a Facebook group to air their concerns. Additionally, students have reached out to Student Union directly to make sure their concerns are being heard. According to Hassay, the main concern of students is the change to Belvoir lot as well as limited commuter parking. Also, what happens in the winter? We live in Cleveland. That past couple of winters have brought significant snowfall, and snow piles eliminate spots as well as lines become difficult to see. Studnicka said that although the stress of parking has subsided after having parked for a couple weeks without incident, she’s worried about this as well. “I’m still concerned about the winter. When we have less spots available because they’re taken up by snow, how crazy is it going to get? And when drivers can’t see the lines to park in, it’s going to be even more of a pain.” Again, this is something I’ve heard a lot of people express concern about as well as being concerned about it myself. Hassay said that Student Union is aware of this concern and they are prepared to deal with that issue “when/if it occurs.”
Student Union has heard us and they do have plans to address these concerns for the future. According to Hassay, they are planning to pass a series of bills that will do the following:
1) Express the need for a capital expansion project to expand parking in the long term
2) Propose changes that could be made to parking to help address current concerns
3) Address minor concerns in regard to parking, such as signage and how parking lines are drawn
So far, I haven’t had too many issues finding a spot other than having to drive around for a bit and parking in Dolan when I live in Murphy. Student Union is well aware of our concerns and is acting on them. They are prepared for issues that could occur in the winter and are ready to pass bills that express our concerns to administration. This could hopefully bring about more long term solutions. So take a deep breath and park easy, JCU. Student Union is on it and maybe it’s not as bad as we all thought it was going to be three weeks ago.