By ALEXIS ZIRPMOULIS
Having a car is supposed to make your everyday life easier and more efficient. In most cases this is true. But as a commuter at the University of Mary Washington driving along College Avenue or attempting to park your car on campus Monday through Friday, easy is the last word that comes to mind. The campus is not safely equipped to handle the amount of traffic produced by commuter students on campus each day, and unfortunately, these issues only get worse when a special event is being held on campus property.
According to the university’s website, if you are a faculty or staff member, student, contractor or vendor at the university you are only permitted to parking on campus if you have a permit (decal, hangtag, or dash pass). Commuter students are generally required to park in any red coded lot and are welcomed to park along College Avenue with no limitations. Parking decals are only valid until August 1 of each academic year, and in addition you are required to pay a fee of $225 per academic year in order to obtain a parking decal. Failure to comply with these guidelines could ultimately end with several steep fines including a fee of $100 plus the cost of purchasing a decal for failure to register your vehicle.
As a commuter, my everyday schedule differs from a lot of students on campus. I work a full-time job Monday through Friday in which I am required to arrive at work at 6 a.m., I commute to the university Monday through Friday for classes, and during my one hour long commute I am praying to find a decent parking spot once I approach campus. My parking arrangements should be the least of the worries. I should have between my busy work and school life. The stress of finding a parking spot and then determining if you are eligible to park in that spot soon becomes more than aggravating.
“Parking is a pain especially for morning classes,” said senior Susana Nogueira. “I had to plan an extra twenty minutes into my morning commute to ensure that I found a safe parking spot and unfortunately, after I did find an available spot I ended up nowhere near where I needed to be. I find myself often times running to my classes, with the hopes of not being late. I think commuter parking is way too limited.”
Designated commuter parking spots are quickly filled and unfortunately, students are forced to park in unsafe areas in order to avoid tardiness to their classes. Many times I have struggled for minutes attempting to parallel park by squeezing into a tight spot. While driving along College Avenue and in various parking lots around campus drivers are not seriously paying attention to students, faculty, and pedestrians walking across crosswalks because they are too focused on finding a decent parking spot. Having to park along streets and lots that are not well lit can also be frightening. The parking layout at UMW needs to be revamped and addressed. The university is greatly expanding their student population, therefore; safe, secure, and reliable parking areas need to be added onto campus property.
This is my third academic year at UMW and unfortunately, the commuter student parking arrangements still stress me out now as much as they did on my first day at the university in 2015. A change needs to be made, and preferably sooner rather than later.