Samuel Northrup, Editor in Chief
With a new semester underway at Utica College, new parking lot rules were implemented prior to classes beginning. The changes made are meant to make daily parking more convenient for a student body where 66 percent live off campus, according to US News college rankings.
In an email to students that was sent shortly before the start of the fall semester, it was announced that resident students would able to park in any designated residential lot instead of being assigned to a specific lot. Per the email, residential parking includes lots D, E, F, G, H and while commuter students are permitted to park in lots A, B, C, J and the Burrstone House lot.
While these changes were implemented with the intention of “making parking
procedures as simple, efficient, and accommodating as possible,” per the email, some students, including junior Kylie Reardon, are still having issues with finding a parking space.
“This year, I just became a commuter, I moved off campus, so it’s the first time I’ve actually had to drive to campus every single day and it takes over 10 to 15 minutes, on occasion, to find parking,” she said.
Reardon likes the way the lots have been rearranged, but she still feels adding more space would be the best option for UC’s growing student body.
Director of Campus of Safety Wayne Sullivan understands student concern about this year’s parking situation but has also seen similar issues with parking space occur in the past.
“Parking at the beginning of the semester has always been wild and crazy,” Sullivan said. “This semester has been no different than any other.”
Sullivan’s main goal is for the stress of parking to be alleviated, including through the dividing of lot D to accommodate both commuters and residents. The side closest to Boehlert Hall is designated for faculty, staff and commuters while the side of the lot closest to South Hall is meant for residential students.
“They’ll (commuters) come on campus, see that the lots are full down there [by the academic buildings] and get panicked because it’s (the lots) not across from their classroom,” Sullivan said. “And they’ll drive around, drive around, drive around and build up anxiety [thinking] ‘I’m gonna be late for class.’ We don’t want that.”
While changes to parking in lot D are meant to make the parking process less stressful, freshman and commuter Matthew McHarris feels space in lots are “tight” and would like to see lot B added expanded where there is open grass surrounding it.
“Right when I get out of classes, it’s always fighting to get out or finding a spot if you leave [and come back],” he said.
To evaluate UC’s parking space availability, the campus safety department is running a “parking lot survey” by counting the number of open spots at the top of each hour to see if lots are running out of space throughout the day. The survey, according to Sullivan, will be completed “within the week.”
Sullivan, based on survey results thus far, does not see a lot expansion as necessary and wants students to realize there is open parking for commuters in lot D every morning.
“The way it’s looking right now, we really don’t have a problem,” he said. “It’s a problem of convenience not a problem of lack of parking spots.”
The “convenience,” he says, is the ability for students to park as close as possible to either their resident halls or academic buildings rather than go to an open spot that is farther away. To do this, some students have taken to parking on the lawn surrounding parking spaces.
“It’s not like home where you drive into your driveway and you’ve got your car parked outside your residence,” Sullivan said.
Freshman and resident Elizabeth Brown does not think parking is a significant problem but would like to see commuter parking in lot D moved towards academic buildings so more residential students could park by their halls.
“If we could have more parking, that would be awesome,” she said.
Once the parking lot survey is complete, Sullivan says the results will determine if “we really do have a parking issue for commuters, and then we’ll talk about making adequate changes if we really have to accommodate everybody.”
“Unfortunately, we can’t just snap our fingers and have it done,” he said. “It’s a process. We’re dealing with a few thousand people, helping them to understand this (the current parking structure) is the best for all situations. We try to make it fair and equitable for everybody.”