A few weeks ago, the East Tennessean published a column I penned about parking. That column generated a lot of replies online. Some were of support, but there were many in anger too.
The replies have caused me to toss around the idea of writing this follow-up.
The first issue to address is whom was I speaking of when referencing “freshman” being allowed to park on campus.
The persons referenced not to be allowed a parking permit at ETSU in my column were traditional first-term college students. A majority of the time these are the student’s whose parent’s still cover their auto-insurance bills, car payment, tuition and housing fees, cell phone bill, etc. etc.
My intent here is not to belittle the students that fall into this category either. They are as much of the ETSU community as the rest of us. The incoming students are probably more important to continuing the tradition of ETSU than those at the university now. It is important to note that I am not saying, “These students don’t deserve a vehicle at ETSU.”
In my first column about parking, the suggestion implied was to not allow them vehicles on campus. Ultimately, upon further reflection, that itself seems implausible. It is infeasible to say a traditional first time student who lives off-campus cannot have a car.
If a student is 18-years-old, just graduated from high school but has a 6-month-old baby, that student is not a traditional first-time freshman and an exception should be made.
Instead of disallowing freshman vehicles on campus, my suggestion is that traditional first year students should not be issued a primary on-campus parking permit. If these students live on campus, or one of the three major apartment complexes with Buc Shot routes, then the need for primary parking is arguably mitigated by location.
These locations are all close enough with expansive parking themselves that students could walk or use public transit. One exception to this is students that live at Buc Ridge. In this instance, a Buc Ridge parking-permit is issued and they are only allowed to park at Buc Ridge on campus.
My second suggestion is to designate the large parking area behind Bojangles to be designated for those living on campus. Traditional first-term students would be issued parking permits for this area or another designated parking lot. The intent would be for these students to park only in these areas, which are lots still considered on campus.
This may also prevent the phenomena of stagnant metal machines around the Lucille Clement Hall and Warf-Pickel lot. These cars typically only roar to life on Fridays when most students go home for the weekends. There is nothing worse to me when thinking of the parking situation than seeing the leaves piled around the tires of a car in a “20 minute parking only” designated spot.
I know the students that have a majority of their classes in Warf-Pickel and the parents of the Little Bucs would love to see a change in parking around the building. There are many other areas on campus where parking has become the main issue. Further construction and improvements to the campus is complicating the problem as well.
One suggestion received by word of mouth was to work with the Carnegie Hotel. A reader suggested that students be allowed to park on the top three floors of the hotel’s parking garage during the school day. If a vehicle has a valid student-parking permit and it is during school hours at ETSU, say 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., then they can park in the Carnegie garage without fear of being towed.
I know that my suggestion has been spurred by the anecdotal evidence that when it rains in East Tennessee, I have to drive to class. I have to leave 45 minutes early to travel less than 1.5 miles from my home to class. My two children dictate that I cannot walk in the rain or ride my bicycle some days. I have to prepare for their safety and well being too.
So which is fair, relocating freshman parking, or punishing commuter students?