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Dear Oswego: Please Fix the Commuter Parking Lots

Dear Oswego,

Please fix the commuter parking lots. I’m serious. This is not to say they’re “broken” in the sense that the pavement is bad or that you can’t get to them — no, see, that would actually be better because then I would know that things like that would be fixed without a hassle. What I am talking about is not only the way the commuter parking lots function but also the number of them. 

The biggest current problem with the commuter lots is simply that there is not enough space for all the commuter cars that are going to the most used buildings on campus (Marano, Shineman, Sheldon, Wilber, and Park). If you look at a map of the parking on campus, you will notice a few things about the commuter lots: there are about five commuter lots in total, with two commuter “strips” of parking. The employee parking lots alone are double this, and with the resident parking lots to add to that, its 26 in total for residents and employees versus the measly seven given to commuters. While the largest commuter lots, C-8 east/west, are nice, they are often jam-packed from nine in the morning till four in the afternoon, and then for night classes, they are once again pretty full.

This is a problem all commuters who use the lots have. As anyone who knows me can attest to, I have sent them a video or picture of me trying to find a space in these lots. The longest I have ever waited for a space was 22 minutes — yes you read that right — I drove in circles in these two lots for 22 minutes waiting for ANYONE to pull out of their spot and get to it before someone else did. If I had not arrived early that day, I would have been late to class, and I know for a fact that there are other commuters who have been late because they didn’t have the time to drive endlessly around the lot looking for a space and then run to class. 

This is not uncommon either — on any given day, you can pull up a chair on the sidewalk and watch how multiple cars slowly drive around the lot, waiting like vultures to see any car pull out or someone walking to their car so they can then back up behind them, put their blinker on, and wait for them to pull out so they can be the first to grab the space. I have been walking and been stopped by people in their cars asking if I was leaving so they could get my space, and I admit I do the same thing. It is just that cutthroat sometimes. If you do not come at exactly the time when a lot of classes are changing so that there is a good rotation of the spaces, then good luck ever finding a spot.

One way this could be helped besides even building more parking lots is allowing people to park in the red spaces at the end of each row. If you don’t know, there are red brick ovals at the end of each row, I guess for aesthetic reasons. However, University Police consider parking in these (which can fit a car on either side of the row) to be “parking outside the boundary.” I know this because I did it once in a rush to get to class and was ticketed for it. You may be thinking, “okay, maybe parking in these would be blocking other cars from coming through the lot safely.” You would be wrong! People (illegally) park in these everyday and there is still plenty of room for cars to get into spaces in the rows and move through the parking lot. There are 18 of these red things and with the amount of cars that could fit safely in each, 28 more spots would be open in the lot. I see people everyday in the commuter lot who bring someone else or even multiple people to school with them. At even 28 times two, this could help 56 more people get to classes on time and without having to worry about stalking someone for a parking spot. 

I know that another solution some people might offer is, “Why don’t you just use the park and ride to park and then take the bus? Then you wouldn’t have to worry about finding a spot and could help the environment.” This would be a great solution, but unfortunately, many college students do not have a schedule that is convenient to the bus schedule. Some people have responsibilities at home to take care of, while others may have to be at work at a certain time or go to a doctor’s appointment, etc. I personally have both responsibilities at home to take care of (like taking care of a dog who doesn’t give a shit about buses) and weekly appointments. While I can understand the school’s goal to help us go green and come together as a community on these buses, it just does not work for everyone and that still means the parking lots that we pay to have a sticker to park in should be available for use.

Another big problem is that the largest (and most used) parking lots are near the big academic buildings on campus, which is a good thing. However, this is as close as it gets to the other areas on campus. If commuter students ever want to visit someone who lives in, say, the Village, they would have to park in the lot/strip near Culkin and walk from there, and the same for halls like Onondaga, Cayuga, and the rest in that square there. If someone wanted to visit anyone who lives in any of the halls starting with Johnson that border the lake, they would have to park in the little strip at the end of Sheldon Ave. and walk from there. Even other academic buildings, such as Hewitt Union and Penfield Library, are a ways away. Not to mention that it is also prohibited to park overnight, so even if you wanted to stay over in a friend’s dorm as a commuter, you wouldn’t be able to. I am not saying that walking is a bad thing, either — what I am saying, though, is that as college students we are already walking all around from class to class all day, and that needing to park so far just to visit the friends we make who do live on campus and not allowing us to keep our cars parked overnight to hang out with them can really create this divide between commuters vs. non-commuters. I have been called a “townie” quite a few times by my fellow dorming classmates for being a commuter who is also from Oswego (even though I have lived in both Oswego and NYC) and not being able to more easily hang out on campus with my friends only adds to this. 

Oh, and in case this really needs to be said: do not call your fellow students (commuter or not) “townies”. I have only met one or two commuters who fit the “townie” stereotype and honestly? It’s just weird and tired. 

I know that this is a long-standing human issue ever since cars became the main method of transportation, and I’m not the first person to complain about commuter parking at Oswego. However, I still think it’s important to talk about this issue because as we keep talking about it, we can actually get something done so that commuters and dormers can be closer as a community, and that coming to school is easier for everyone.