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The Blue & Gray Press | October 19, 2017

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Student-to-Parking Ratio Unbalenced?

BY HEATHER BRADY

When my roommate woke up one morning, she was sick with a gross, phlegmy cold. So, as any good roomie and friend would do, I went to get her some soup.

After driving to Giant, buying the soup, driving back to campus, parking in the South parking lot, giving her the soup, and running to class for an hour, I came back to move my car, only to find a $25 parking ticket under the windshield wiper.

The Jefferson Hall parking lot, found directly behind Jefferson, is now a faculty-staff only parking area.

I knew this, so, arguably, I was at fault for the violation and for taking the chance of parking there.

The parking restriction is new this year. Anyone parked in the lot without the proper permit will be ticketed $25 per violation. Based on this drastic change, one would think that faculty and staff members desperately need the lot.

But here’s the thing: the lot remains mostly empty throughout the week.

It is incredibly frustrating to walk past this lot on the way to class and see that there are plenty of open, empty spaces available for use. Only four or five cars with blue faculty/staff parking decals can be found there on a regular basis.

Last year, the lot was consistently packed with student vehicles. It provided a great opportunity for residents of South, Framar, and Bushnell Halls, as well as RAs from Jefferson Hall, to keep their cars close at hand, in case they needed to make a quick trip to the store or venture into downtown Fredericksburg.

This year, upperclassmen in those residence halls will have to inconvenience other students by parking in the remaining residential student lots, including the Marshall lot, Randolph lot, parking deck and adjacent Sunken Road lot. These parking areas have historically been designated for students living closer to them.

The new parking lot restriction could be the start trend of dwindling student parking areas on campus, which is exasperating for those of us that pay $200 for the privilege of parking on campus.

Combined with the lack of parking available for faculty, staff, and campus visitors for big events on the Bell Tower side of campus, the lack of general parking could create a problem for the ever-growing student population at Mary Washington.

In all fairness, the recently built parking deck has helped to relieve students of the parking squeeze.

According to the UMW Web site, there were only 1,700 parking spaces for over 3,000 students, including over 1,000 commuting before the deck went up.

However, the location of the parking deck has not alleviated the issue, because it sits in an area of campus not easily accessed by students residing in dorms other than Alvey or Arrington, or by faculty teaching in academic buildings other than Jepson.

So should the student body just deal with it? Should the precious little parking given to residential students be slowly eaten away to make room for people who don’t sleep here at night?

That is, of course, up to those of us with cars.

But I would caution all students with cars to consider their busy schedules and the time it takes them to go on a cross-campus trek, just to drive the vehicle they paid good money to bring with them. If something unexpected comes up, do we have the time and money to deal with parking issues?

I can’t think of many people who would say yes.