By Brooke Schultz
With a small population of students, finding where to park can be quite a problem.
“Obviously, on any college campus, parking is something that has to be managed,” said Director of Public Safety Gerald Roderick. “Everybody wants to park conveniently to their class or office, wherever they work or study.”
Even though each spot is designated whether it is for faculty/staff, commuter, or visitor, there are still rogue parkers who try to cheat the system. Some students park wherever they want or don’t register their car at all.
Public Safety’s policy gives students up to five tickets until their privilege of having a car on campus is suspended or revoked. If a student surpasses the five tickets, they get a boot on their car, which immobilizes the vehicle and forces the student to “self-identify.”
“Once we identify who they are, there’s a fee for putting the boot on, we’ll remove the boot and then all those fines will be charged to the student account,” said Roderick. “Often times, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars in fines that now suddenly go on the student bill because they didn’t want to pay $70 to register and didn’t want to park where was appropriate. So that’s what we try to inform students of at the beginning of the semester — it’s best to play by the rules, pay the $70 to park legally, and there won’t be any issues.”
Even with this advice, Public Safety receives reports of parking violations up to 10 times a week and, if it proves continuous, Roderick said that students — a few a year — have been taken to the Honor Board over violating parking policies.
It doesn’t have to escalate to this because Roderick said there is parking. It’s just a matter of time management.
“A lot of students and parents of students have complained about the parking situation, that there’s no parking. And if you were to look at our campus, you would see there’s plenty of parking, but most of it is up on the north end,” he said.
Senior Maddy Marguiles said that she usually walks to class unless she knows she’ll be there after dark.
“I would drive more often if there were more spots available to commuters, but it’s too hard to find parking during the day,” she said. “I try to park in the quad lot, since it’s closest to Hodson and my classes, but if that’s full, I have to park by Western Shore.”
Sometimes, Margulies said that this makes it difficult getting to class on time. “I have to leave really early if I want to get a spot, or so I have enough time to walk from the Western Shore lot. It makes driving to campus less worth it,” she said.
When the College first put those lots out there, Roderick parked his car in the furthest spot in the north end of campus. “[I] got out and walked from that furthest spot, through the center of campus, down to Toll and Goldstein, to the curb of Campus Avenue, that roadway. And I timed it,” he said. “And it took me eight minutes to walk that distance. So, you know, you can walk across this campus in eight minutes. That to me is a pretty reasonable amount of time that people should be building in to their schedule.”
Parking outside of the designated spots also poses a threat to safety in case of emergency.
“Obviously, we need to keep certain areas clear so emergency vehicles can get to and around buildings in the case of a fire or medical emergency. That’s another safety thing that goes along with this. You just can’t park anywhere,” said Roderick.
He mentioned that students are usually good about parking, but having students who decide against registering their vehicles and park in faculty/staff spots is still a common offense.
A new issue has been added to the parking situation. Cromwell is a fair distance from central campus.
The building has a small parking lot for faculty and staff cars, but no room for students to park, and the nearby residential streets are off-limits for student parking. Over fall break, Roderick said they tried to expand the parking lot, but were denied by Kent County Planning and Zoning.
While the parking situation near Cromwell is not set to change any time soon, Roderick did say there has been a shift in demand for parking by the swim center and in the stadium lot now that several offices have relocated.
“I think we’re going to re-allocate parking, hopefully this year. I think we’re going to add some student parking up behind Cecil. The faculty/staff parking comes pretty far up into that parking area,” said Roderick. “So I’ve asked that we go back and increase student parking in the stadium lot.”
WC has signed a contract with an outside painter, though there is currently no definite time-line for the process.
“That’s something that pretty much has to happen when the lots are empty, so it might be possible for them to do it over winter break if the weather is good enough,” said Roderick.
Until then, Roderick said, “The student who drives around in congested areas and waits for a spot to open up is wasting time. You’re better off just going to where it’s a legitimate place.
“A car is very much a responsibility, and you have to manage that responsibility well. We try to educate our students. When you graduate here and get a job in downtown Baltimore, you’re not going to be able to park your car wherever you want because you’re going to come back and it’ll be gone. So you should learn that responsibility now and if you’re going to park, you’ll have to take the time to manage it.”
By Brooke Schultz