Growing enrollment and shrinking spaces, students and faculty driving with limited options
When she spent $300 on a parking pass, public relations professor Kathryn Kuttis was expecting to decrease her daily burden of stress, not add to it.
After getting her two daughters to school at 8:30 a.m., Kuttis started her long hunt for parking spots.
Kuttis is not alone. When she tweeted her experience, many of her colleagues and students said they were having the same problem.
“I’d rather bike to school, but I have two little daughters to take care of,” Kuttis said. “And I know there are at least seven other faculty with small children. We don’t have a lot of choices.”
Department of Parking and Transportation Director Gwen Bolden said with over 4,000 spots available on campus, the university doesn’t lack parking spaces. But there are more than 4,500 faculty on campus.
Many parking spaces are recently closed either permanently or temporarily because of construction this year. As many as 100 spots are located in the heart of campus, near the Erb Memorial Union, the Student Recreation Center and the Lokey Science building.
“Our campus is very landlocked,” Vice President of Student Affairs Robin Holmes said. “And the university understands that we are putting pressure on parking.”
The university, on the other hand, tries to replace as many spots as possible in other locations. The Columbia garage was opened in 2011 to resolve some of the tension on campus. But most of the spots are reserved for faculty and visitors.
The Department of Parking and Transportation is a self-sustaining department, run mainly by the revenue from parking passes and coin meters. The closed spots on campus have negatively impacted the department in a couple years, Bolden said. In addition, the department has set aside a big part of its budget to pay off the Columbia garage.
With that pressure, the department raised the price of parking passes by double in 2010. Still, the department exceeded the capacity of all parking spots on campus. Fourteen hundred parking passes were sold with only 1,200 spots reserved for students. With 2,600 reserved for faculty, the department sold 2,400 faculty parking passes this past term. Among those, 680 spots are reserved under the Americans with Disabilities Act and for high-level faculty.
Kuttis is also concerned with the growing number of students and faculty, and said that the university has not thoroughly planned out what effect this growth will have on available parking.
“We just added 24 new faculty in our journalism school, and this happens all over the university,” she said. “We have more people with shrinking spaces.”
Holmes said the university discourages students and faculty from individually traveling to campus by raising the fees and promoting a pedestrian-friendly campus at orientations.
“This is a popular topic for ASUO, but we never go very far with any ideas,” Holmes said. “Maybe that’s why we shouldn’t look into driving in the core of campus at the first place.”
Kuttis said more active communication will help.
“By no means I say we should get more parking lots,” she said. “But the department should be more transparent with the amount of parking spaces on campus, and come up with a renovate resolution to communicate with faculty and students.”
The university offers carpool parking passes, but does not have any organized program for students and faculty at the moment, Bolden said.
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