It’s 11:08. Twenty-two minutes until your class, and you’re exiting the roundabout into the ETSU parking garage.
You should be fine; after you park, it’s only a five-minute walk to class.
But cars are lined up in the garage. You circle around behind them, hoping some good luck will open a space just in time.
But none comes, so you drive around to the other side of campus and cruise through Lot 9 off West Walnut Street. It’s 11:20.
Panicked about missing a test, you head for the Millennium Centre across the street, only to be turned away. They’ve chosen today to enforce their policy which only allows students using the Digital Media Center to park in their garage.
It’s 11:26. You could still make it if you run, so you park in the Wendy’s parking lot and sprint across State of Franklin Road, dodging traffic.
This story is all-too-familiar for ETSU’s commuter students, who must waste too much time trying to park on campus almost daily.
After the grand opening of the ETSU parking garage a few years ago, the parking problem was supposed to have ended, but then construction closed Lot 19 and the university eliminated the parking spaces near Lucille Clement Hall along Jack Vest Drive.
The Millennium Centre, which had not strictly enforced its parking rules, posted an employee to turn away non-Digital Media students on Monday, Aug. 29.
Students also received an email this summer notifying them that Parking Services would extend its enforcement of the Faculty/Staff and Student parking designations for an extra hour this school year, making students wait until 4:30 p.m. before they could utilize faculty parking as well.
With many big plans for the university’s improvement, the parking problem seems to have slipped out of the conversation, but students struggle to find parking during peak hours.
It is tempting to suggest that the university build another parking garage near Lot 9, on the opposite side of campus from the current garage, but closing this lot to construct the garage is simply not possible. During peak hours, there are no empty spaces in Lot 9.
Instead, the university could consider establishing a new agreement with the Millennium Centre which would allow all students to park there during ETSU’s most popular class times.
Such an agreement could also be beneficial for the future fine and performing arts center, which will be located right next door to the Johnson City-owned Millennium Centre.
The university could also consider taking a close look at its schedule of classes. While it is difficult to find a parking space during the morning and early afternoon, parking outside of these times is relatively easy.
Restructuring class times could ease the parking problem by redistributing the number of students trying to get to class at any given time.
More extreme measures have also been proposed, such as forbidding a certain group of students who live in university residence halls from having a vehicle on campus. This idea, however, seems to idealize the availability of public transportation in the area.
Without a clear solution to the obvious problem and little response from university officials, parking will continue to be an obstacle to students’ success in the classroom.