Faculty parking spots reserved for HAF members

Joe Lord

A new parking plan for men’s basketball games may add another twist to Western’s web of parking woes.

Western will reserve spots in faculty lots for athletics donors during home games in Diddle Arena next semester. The lots are normally open to anyone after 5 p.m., and are often used by students taking night classes.

Western’s Parking and Transportation Committee, with input from the athletics department, developed the plan this semester to allow 1,050 Hilltopper Athletic Foundation members to park in faculty lots servicing Grise Hall and Tate Page Hall, and the Mimosa and South Lawn lots.

HAF members will also be allowed to park in faculty and staff spots on Big Red Way, said Karl Laves, parking committee co-chairman.

Though Laves said the plan would hold spots open for those teaching night classes, some faculty are concerned.

Sam Evans, associate dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, said he’s worried about parking for students with night classes.

“If spaces are used by the HAF, then you reduce the number of spaces used by night students,” Evans said.

Athletics Director Wood Selig said while he understands faculty and student concerns, the parking plan isn’t perfect for HAF members, either.

“HAF membership is going from parking in Diddle Arena parking lot – and at worse case, the structure – to peripheral lots,” he said.

HAF members parked in Diddle lot and in the parking structure last year for men’s home basketball games, said HAF executive director Jim Clark.

The arena’s renovation has gobbled up the majority of the spots in Diddle lot and the conversion of the parking structure to resident-only parking will block HAF members from parking there.

“It’s just growing pains the whole university is going through,” Clark said.

Clark downplayed the effect the new parking plan will have on night class students. Five weekday games this season will leave night class students scrambling for parking spaces, Clark said.

Most home games are on the weekend.

But University Senate president Doug Smith said other means of parking for HAF members, including a shuttling system, should be considered.

“I think it’s demoralizing to the faculty to take a second place to events,” Smith said.

The parking spots in the faculty lots will be open to HAF members who are season-ticket holders and have contributed $250 or more to the foundation.

Laves said the parking committee asked Selig and Gene Tice, vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Services, to speak with faculty from the business and education colleges to ensure the parking conflict will be minimized.

The business and education departments, which hold the majority of their classes in Grise and Tate Page, will be most impacted by the parking plan.

Tice said the meeting has not yet happened.

Fans who attend men’s home games and are not HAF members will park in Egypt lot and the gravel lots near campus, he said. Night class students will most likely park in those lots, as well.

Laves said he doesn’t anticipate safety problems for students walking from the far north and south ends of campus to the centrally located Grise and Tate Page lots. He said on-campus security increases during games.

Tice agreed.

“The issue is the distance, not safety,” he said.

Tice said there is enough lighting in the gravel lot, and lights will be added to Egypt during its expansion this semester.

Campus police Capt. Jerry Phelps said while there is increased security on game nights, the focus is around Diddle.

Associate education professor Barbara Kacer will teach classes on Thursday evenings next semester. Most of her students work during the day and drive to campus at night, she said.

“Where are they going to park for classes?” she asks.

Selig said most complaints are over reactions.

“I think parking is a perceived problem for anyone who is not parked within 15 feet of the door they want to access,” Selig said.

Reach Joseph Lord at [email protected]