Commuters need somewhere to park too

It seems as though with each passing year the parking problems worsen at the University. The prime real estate at this educational institution is not the classrooms, the laboratories or the library, but instead available parking spaces. This year seems to be a record in which desperate commuter students who are eager to attend class are in direct violation of posted regulations. Amidst a sea of automobiles, many are either double parked or are parked on the grass. The all too often dilemma facing commuter students is whether to miss class due to a lack of available parking or to design a makeshift parking spot with whatever space is available in order to attend class.

If the essence of education is change, as publicized on the mortar block on the facade of the Student Union, then why is it that the University will not react to the problem? The University knows both the number of commuter students and the available parking spots and is well aware that students outnumber available space. Let’s face it: parking regulations need to be relaxed or revised to reflect the current parking problems faced by commuter students. After all, without commuter students, University enrollment would decline and BGSU would face the potential loss of revenue.

If one is bold enough to complain to the parking and traffic department at the University, then the staff recommends that students park in lot # 20 next to the stadium, which is a gravel lot with a handful of available spots. There are plenty of stones to chip paint off any size car and space is limited because over half the lot acts as an overflow for on campus students. Then there is also lot # 6 which serves as an overflow for all vehicles. It is next to the interstate and one still has to hike a quarter of a mile to reach the bus stop and then await a bus to get on campus. Not only is this incredibly inconvenient but also by the time you arrive on campus there is a good probability that your class has ended.

The big question is whether the staff practices what they preach. Not a chance. It is mind-boggling to allow such hypocrisy to proliferate at an educational institution. If one is unwilling to park next to the interstate and hike to campus then one should not expect others to do the same. It is ironic that University staff, who have the most convenient parking available, advocate the most inconvenient measures for commuter students, the ones who, in part, pay their paycheck.

The fact that faculty and staff have the most convenient of all parking spaces contradicts the basic marketing principle: the customer comes first. Most organizations require staff to park the farthest so that customers can park in the most convenient spaces. If staff has convenient parking available to them then why can’t commuter students be entitled to the same? The fact is that if faculty and staff had to park where commuters have to then there would not be a problem because it would have long been solved.

It should be common knowledge that students are the lifeblood of the University. In fact, the University would not even exist without the students. Through tuition, the students pay staff and faculty salaries and wages but are given last priority when it comes to parking. With all due respect, contrary to popular belief University faculty and staff are not above students because students are the cause of work at the University. Students provide the University with jobs. It is a shame that parking policies do not reflect this philosophy.

There is power in numbers. Only when commuter students act collectively will they be heard. If the University is not responsive to student complaints about parking, then students should complain to third parties or to whoever lends an ear. Negative word of mouth advertising to potential students may have an effect on future enrollment. Better yet, I challenge University officials to set aside one day each semester in which students park in faculty and staff lots and vice versa. Then University officials will experience reality shock and they will also experience firsthand what commuter students have to go through daily. The months for this event should be held in July, December and April, for obvious reasons.

The simple fact remains that some action needs to be taken. Commuter students should not be ignored. The University should exert some effort to correct the situation. The funds for additional lots or parking spaces could be obtained from parking fines and permit fees. As for me, I will reflect on how much attention was given to the parking problems when the Alumni Office contacts me regarding donations. If the university turns a deaf ear to commuter students, then when the University cries out for financial help they too should not be heard.