Campus parking forum draws administrators, few students

Beth Sewell

Of the 17,500 students who search – often unsuccessfully – for parking spots at Western each day, 40 showed up to a campus parking forum Thursday to voice concern.

Ross Pruitt, SGA vice president of finance, said although the forum gave campus administrators the chance to hear some complaints, the message they heard would have been more successful if a larger group of students had shown up.

“I would have liked it to have been better attended,” Pruitt said, “But I think it turned out fairly well for those who did.”

The students who attended the forum received an up-to-date fact sheet of exact numbers of spots added on campus over the last four years – 1,302, spots lost since Sept. 10 – 592 and the number of spaces in the new gravel lots – 500.

Gene Tice, vice president of Student Affairs and Campus Services, presented these numbers along with explanations for each lot and their individual plans of construction.

Tice said that of the 480 spots lost because of the Diddle Arena renovation, only 260 will be taken permanently. The other 220 will be available when the project is finished.

Also, Tice said, the 30 spots lost around Barnes-Campbell Hall and Bemis-Lawrence Hall will be lost temporarily because of dorm construction.

Karl Laves, vice chairman of the Parking and Transportation Committee, said he was impressed with the number of students in attendance at Thursday’s forum and said the event was beneficial to both students and administrators.

“I think the most helpful thing is that we had it,” Laves said. “The students got to see the committee members and realize we weren’t a bunch of politicians.”

Students presented a number of possible solutions to the Hill’s parking crunch during the forum. Many advised administrators to eliminate freshman parking or restrict freshmen parking to an off-campus, freshmen-only lot.

Louisville sophomore Jill Goodall was one of the students who suggested a parking policy pertaining to freshmen.

“Maybe not saying that freshmen aren’t allowed to drive, but looking into having a freshman parking lot off campus might be a good solution,” Woodall said. “I know a lot of other schools do it, and it really could help.”

Tice said the suggestion has been noted by the committee, but no concrete decisions will be made for a while.

He said administrators would have to look at possible incentives for students parking in those off-campus lots and plan where the lots would be located if such a plan were put into motion.

Laves said he is not in favor of restricting freshman driving privileges in any form.

“I think freshmen, as well as other classes, should have the same opportunity to drive,” Laves said. “Singling freshmen out – I just don’t think that’s a solution.”

Students also discussed vehicle ticketing by campus police during Thursday’s forum. Tice said many students have recently received tickets for parking where they normally do.

Tice said campus police have increased their staff of ticket writers and the additional staff is allowing the department to ticket more violators.

However, Tice said the university will be lenient with some students.

“We are going to try to go back to the old system of giving courtesy tickets just to let students know where they can and cannot park without it costing them,” Tice said.

Reach Beth Sewell at [email protected]