Friday, August 21, 2009


Argh, parking. I have never been on a college campus where parking was not kind of a headache.

At least for me, it's alleviated somewhat by the existence of "faculty lots" where we can pay a small premium for a parking pass, and then park there. And I do it. It's worth it to me because one of the lots is mere steps from my building.

But the faculty lots lead to other issues.

I did my spiel in class the other day about "If you are parked in THIS lot" (doing the flight attendant big-arm gesture to point out where the lot is), "that is a faculty lot. Student lots are HERE" (another big-arm gesture in a different direction) "and there are a VERY few student spaces behind the building if you arrive early.

But if you park in the faculty lot, you may be ticketed."

I did not add, "and tick off the faculty who PAID to park there."

But still, we get grumbling from the students: the argument being, shouldn't there be just a first-come, first-served sale on the parking passes (so of course, the students, having little to do in the summers, can camp out like they do for the iPhones, while the faculty just have to pray there are a few passes left when they get out of class or in from doing research).

I'm irked by the argument that students should be able to buy parking passes and park in the faculty (and staff, I have to add that - staff get to have priority places too, if they want to pay) lot.

Oh, I know why - a lot of students want to rush into campus (whirrr-SCREECH!) two minutes before the start of class and KNOW they can park close to the building. So they can grab that extra couple minutes of sleep in the morning. Or whatever.

But, you know, we don't GET that many perks. I jumped on the faculty lot parking when it came on-line because in the days before the faculty-lots, I couldn't leave campus mid-day and plan to park when I returned - so all doctor and dentist appointments had to be scheduled at the end of the day, if I had a meeting off-campus, I'd just cancel my office hours after it if I had any.

Because the parking was just that bad. I might wind up walking 1/2 mile to get back to my building after parking in the afternoon.

And that's not so cool if you're staying until after dark. We're a pretty safe community, but still. It's not cool to have to walk out to your car alone late in the evening when it's far, far away.

And there's the issue of carrying stuff. I often am juggling multiple things: my purse, my lunch, several textbooks, an umbrella if it's likely to rain, a stack of graded papers, maybe some materials for a class demonstration. Parking close makes it easy. If I had to park far away I would either wind up making multiple trips or dropping something.

But there's also the issue of just hierarchy. Shouldn't the people who WORK HERE - the people who are providing the education - get one tiny little perk? What's so horrible for the students about being told, "You're a student here. If you want to park, we have several student lots. Yes, they are not terribly convenient. Yes, they sometimes fill up around 10 am. Deal with it."

The big part of the problem is that the majority of the dorm students have cars. And they drive to class. I am not kidding. The dorms are barely the length of a football field from most campus buildings (we are a bit farther, I admit that), and still, students have to drive to class.

On my old campus, students living in the dorms - if they even were allowed to bring a car to campus (you had to have a good reason) - parked in a "distant lot" that was served by minibuses a couple times a day. So if you needed your car, you could either catch the minibus, get a commuter friend to drive you out there, or walked the ~2 miles to get there.

It worked pretty well and helped with congestion on campus.

Here, though, everyone HAS to have their car immediately available. There's talk that they're building a "distant" lot (across one of the main streets from where the dorms are) but I bet it's not widely used unless students are required to park there.

I understand needing to have a car - I'm not anti-car. But I do think if you're on a college campus, there should be the expectation that you're going to walk a few hundred yards in a day.

The big joke on my campus is that the students drive to class all through the day, then drive to the gym in the afternoons so they can work out so they won't get all doughy and out of shape. (When I was in college I walked several miles in a day. I didn't even own a car)

But I get tired of the students whining about how much "better" we have it than them and how "it's not fair." Yeah? You know why it's not fair? It's not fair because I spent 10 years or so of my life without much of a social life, generally pretty poor, devoting most of my Saturdays to working. It was called being in grad school. I paid my dues, now I should at least be able to park within sight of my building.

1 comment:

Dave R. said...

Tell the students they need to get over the bizarre, strange idea that they are your equals.