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Parking on Campus is a PainNew students entering Western Michigan University are allowed to have a car on campus. With every new freshmen class entering each year, parking poses a problem. WMU is already limited in its parking on campus and since freshmen are allowed to have cars, the students are faced with the dilemma of having nowhere to park or parking quite far from their destination. There are parking problems all over the campus, creating backups in residence hall and other lots, resulting in students parking illegally to avoid walking far distances, which can be quite irritating in the bitter cold. Parking closer seems like the rational thing to do, but it is a risk, which can result in hundreds of dollars worth of traffic tickets, or having your car toed away. Having a car last semester, it was very inconvenient for me to park when it came to driving to class.
I was disappointed by the amount of tickets I received, making my parents question whether I really needed a car. I might get a new car next semester but in all honesty I don't really know if it's worth it or not, especially if you're living on campus. Riding the bus only involves a shorter walk to class, and I can usually find rides to other places from someone else. Most students however, do want a car and shouldn't have to think if they should really need one just because of the parking problem on campus.Parking legally by the residence halls is almost impossible. Students who live at particular dorms find themselves faced with the problem of having to park on the other side of campus. Students who live in the valleys comment that they are surprised with the numerous tickets that are written every day and how it isn't always clearly spelled out where they can park.
They complain on how some parking spaces involve lengthy walks in the freezing cold weather, and how easily the lots fill up. Whenever I'm riding with someone and they have to park by my hall or any other, they usually park in the 30 min parking and leave their car there for hours, or in the faculty lots to avoid walking from the lot up the hill. These actions often result in $15 parking tickets, which may not be a big deal for some but they do add up. In addition, students find it very annoying that parking by the big buildings is illegal since only employees and people with W stickers can park by them. Students are forced to park in other places on campus and some choose to disregard the signs posted for reserved parking.
This is a bit risky because vehicles parking in violation of university regulations may be towed and impounded. For example, a freshman living in the valleys would get an F parking permit. The only places they can legally park with this are up the hill by the dorms, by the rec. center, and on high levels of a parking structure by the Bernhard Center, which is a popular place for students to eat out at, or buy things at the school store. Each parking lot is restricted to parking for a specific type of permit. Only vehicles displaying the same type of permit may park in that lot. During fall and winter semesters, residence hall lots with the designations A, C, F, K, and Z are restricted 24 hours a day for vehicles displaying the same type of permit.
Many students choose to ignore these letters and just park there anyway, taking the risk of being ticketed or possibly toed. Campus police walks around especially at night and tickets every car parked illegally or calls in for a toe truck to help out. Seven different parking lots that may seem convenient when students are looking for a spot are restricted to employee parking 24 hours per day, leaving many students frustrated, especially if they are in a hurry to class.Students familiar with the campus layout will realize they will barely save time driving to some classes if they are going to choose to park legally, making walking or the bus a better idea. Many freshman I know with cars usually walk to class because sometimes it's not really worth driving. Walking to class from the valleys can take about 15-25 minutes depending on your pace and what hall your class is in.
The busses are mostly useful to those students because it saves them 10 minutes, but only runs about every 20 minutes, meaning that if a student happens to just miss the bus, then they usually have to walk. Students living on main campus also face quite a nuisance. One commented that the parking lot at Henry hall is way too small to be considered reliable. There are probably about 50 parking spots and about 200 people who live there, resulting in having to circle around and search for other lots to park in. Finding a spot during weekends is noticeably easier than weekdays but only because that's when a lot of students leave campus.
Most places where students park when they go to class are a lot farther away than people want them to be. When students have to leave to be someplace on time, they usually have to add in the time that it's going to take for them to get to their cars, which could be an extra 5-10 minutes. There needs to be additional parking on campus made for visitors and also for students. There also needs to be additional parking meters added for students living off campus, who often have trouble finding a spot. The college is overpopulated, resulting in loads of backed up parking lots.
Faculty already has reserved parking; however the limited amount of parking on campus is forcing students and visitors to park in reserved faculty lots. Parking is insufficient and can be a huge hassle depending on the day. Parking passes are about $250 per year and don't really seem like they're all worth it unless you have a busy work schedule. Some students comment on having spent a lot more on parking tickets yearly than the pass itself. Some have reported spending over $350 on parking tickets so far this year, which is a bit ridiculous because there are many other things college students want to buy with their money.Most of the parking problems in schools are due to the fact that freshman are allowed to have cars, resulting in overloads of particular lots.
A good solution to the parking problem on campus would be to not allow freshman to have cars. This would probably piss a lot of people off, such as outgoing students who need a car for weekends or work, but it would free up a great deal of spaces. With those spaces available, there would probably a lot less complaints about the availability of parking. Most freshmen usually know someone with a car, and can take the bus to class, reducing the length of the walk, so they could most likely handle one year without a car. They could also use the public bus, which goes to places such as Meijer. Taxis are pretty cheap around here, such as Big Daddy Taxi which charges about $3-5 for a ride almost anywhere in the Kalamazoo area.
This situation would take some time getting used to though, because WMU has permitted freshmen to have cars for a while, which is a huge plus for many students. Our school is limited in funding certain projects such as adding additional parking to solve the parking problem on campus. The student body should take responsibility for the raising of these funds to build additional parking on campus, if enough students want this to be a possibility. The rising sophomore class should organize fund raising events to build additional parking on campus. The faculty in exchange should offer some incentive for those who participate. Students should be allowed to complete their volunteer work hours by participating in the fund raising events. This would give those who do not have transportation a chance to be able to do the volunteer work on campus.
Transportation itself could be improved and would definitely be a good way to start reducing the problem. Putting back the extra 2 valley busses removed a few years ago would speed up the transportation and encourage more students from the valleys to take the bus to class and have a shorter distance to walk.On top of that, roads should be slightly modified to reduce traffic. There should be less faculty lots because there are way more students who need those spaces. If the school eventually gets enough funding they could build more student lots in more well-located spaces, which would greatly reduce the problem. Removing certain designated letter labeled parking lots would construct a first come first served system for everyone, reducing the amount of tickets issued.
Parking has become a problem concerning many more students compared to staff. With enough funding, voting, and hard work, I think that eventually they will think of more ways to make parking more convenient for everyone. Parking has been a problem on Western's campus for a while. Only time will tell if it will get any better or not. The biggest contributing factor seems to be that freshmen are allowed to have cars, creating the dilemma of backed lots, parking somewhere else, or risking parking illegally in other spaces. Freshmen will continue to be allowed to have cars for now because WMU wants their students to have a certain level of freedom and make their own decisions.
Realizing many lots will be backed can be a pain but it's the price to pay for allowing every student to have a car on campus.
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