Parking the problem

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Last week I had the misfortune of getting a parking ticket.

To be fair, I deserved the ticket. I left my truck parked in Lot 4 all day, and I paid the price for the fact that I was running late for class that day and it was cold and I didn’t want or have the time to walk the few blocks from my normal parking spot on McNiven Ave to the university. Such a thing happens, and although irritatingly expensive, I will pay my ticket and hope that the next time I park illegally, I get away with it.

A week after the beginning of classes, I tried to buy a parking pass. Until then, I had walked to school, but as things picked up with work and school, I found I didn’t have the time to spend walking for an hour and twenty minutes a day. By this time, however, I was too late. I was informed that I was 545th on the waiting list for a parking pass. Shocked, I was forced to park off-campus. While this was certainly better than walking from the Southland Mall every day, it was still inconvenient and I know the owners of the houses I park in front of are probably not too pleased with me. But whatever, you do what you’ve got to do.

The parking ticket got me thinking about something that has been bothering me for a while now: the fact that for all the pomp a circumstance surrounding parking at the beginning of this semester, nothing has changed at all. While there was a much-touted parking forum that theoretically raised awareness and supposedly encouraged discussion of the problem, in reality there’s been little to no discussion since the forum.

What did come out of the parking forum was a new shibboleth for the university administration. Now, every time the issue of parking comes up, Vianne Timmons or Barb Pollock can brush it off with a reminder that they asked the students about what could be done, and lo and behold, received some “excellent suggestions” from students.

Meanwhile, everyone settled into a complacent routine and learned ways to cope with not having any parking spaces on campus. The overflow of student parking was taken care of by parking off-campus on McNiven Ave or Kramer Boulevard, much to the chagrin of Hillsdale homeowners. While only being a two-hour parking zone, the city gloriously doesn’t ticket anyone unless they are parked in a strict no-parking zone.

But this concession does not solve the problem, and there have been no visible signs from the administration as to exactly what is being done to answer the concerns of the students. While it is easy for them to point to the forum and say they are listening to students, it is difficult to tell if they comprehend what students are telling them.

This issue is not one that is going to solve itself either. If anything, the problem will become worse as the university continues to draw more and more students here for post-secondary education. It’s already apparent through the recent, and long-overdue,widening of the doors between College West and the New Lab building, that the university is expecting more students to call this their campus. Parking, while not going to be fixed over night, at least needs to be taking visible steps in the direction of a solution.

Rather than repeating that they have consulted students and are now forming a strategy, the administration needs to publically say what steps they are considering and when they think serious improvements will be made. Theyalso need to keep students involved in all aspect of the decision making if they truly value our input rather than closing the doors and giving the impression that they hope the problem will go away.

Until then, I guess I will pay my parking ticket and continue to find ways to circumvent parking enforcement. Until I can buy a parking pass, which I will happily do if I get the opportunity, I will wait for the solution to the university’s parking problem with growing impatience.

Edward Dodd
Op-Ed Editor

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