The other day, as I was driving in circles around campus looking for a parking spot, I began to reflect on the parking situation at ETSU. Any student that has attended the university for a semester knows the pain of trying to park. Please allow me to entertain you with a story.
I don’t live far from campus, but I left my house 30 minutes early because I wanted to stop and grab a coffee before class.
As I sat in the drive-thru, my left leg began to twitch. There were four cars in front of me and time was ticking away. I was locked in at this point with a coffee shop on my left and a curb on the right. I could do nothing but wait.
I left the drive through with 15 minutes to park and make it to class. I would have to rush, but making it on time was doable. I accelerated to the speed limit and immediately turned into the parking garage from State of Franklin. I had made up my mind to do one sweep of the two lower floors and then head to what I call “The Back 40” or the student parking lot near Knights Pizza. Of course there were no spots in the garage, so I took my last resort.
After driving in circles for 20 minutes near Earth Fare and Knights Pizza, I finally found a parking spot as another student was pulling out. Needless to say I was late to class.
As I was driving in circles, my reflections turned to what could be done about all of this. The parking garage was intended to be a solution to add more spaces to campus. Then the university tore-out a huge parking lot to build the new football stadium and kind of eliminated the solution to the problem the garage was supposed to fix.
So what can be done?
I began to think about the stigma of ETSU being a “suitcase college” and thought maybe there could be a solution to both of these problems. A kind of two birds one stone metaphor.
When I was researching other colleges, I remember seeing a lot of places that did not allow entry-level students automobiles on campus. Some of these places went as far as not allowing freshman or sophomore level students to have vehicles on campus.
Now what if ETSU did this? With registration going up, and more students than expected this semester at ETSU, should the university seriously consider not allowing first-time college students whom live on campus to have a vehicle? What if they went as far as not issuing parking permits to first time college students?
In my opinion, not allowing traditional first-term college students vehicles or parking permits would greatly cut down on the parking problems that continue to plague ETSU. A secondary effect could be more students staying on campus to take advantage of the recreation the university and region have to offer.
I have been told twice in the last few weeks of how lucky people are to live in this area, because it is an outdoor vacation destination for many people.
If more first-term students stayed on campus for the weekend, possibly, by the time they are third and fourth year students, they would not want to leave for a weekend. They would be more inclined to put their money into the local economy by staying here and taking advantage of local venues and events happening in the area.
One negative impact, however, could be a drop in admissions. ETSU Alumni Matt Walker graduated in 2016 and said he wouldn’t have attended the school if such a policy had been in place. For many people, that’s a big seller for incoming ETSU students.
Or another alternative would be to include another parking lot. I suppose we’ll see what ETSU has planned next.