Like a vulture circles the sky for its next meal, students circle the lots at Western looking for a place to park. Unlike the vulture, that will almost certainly share his find with his friends, students that are not fortunate enough to find a spot must move on the to next lot and join the circle again.
Population growth at Western, along with construction on campus, has made parking spaces a prime piece of real estate.
Senior business major Chelsea Taylor thinks something needs to be done.
“It’s common sense,” Taylor said. “If we’re going to keep growing we are going to need more spaces.”
“Parking is miserable, especially when it snows because people can’t see the lines so they take up almost two spots to park,” she said.
Snow has also made overflow parking in the grass unavailable for students this semester.
Western’s Chief of Police Jonathan Kelley disagrees.
“There is typically plenty of parking available across campus throughout the spring semester,” Kelley said. “This spring we have seen available parking across campus.”
This semester Parking and Security Services issued 4,175 first vehicle general parking stickers for the 2,140 general parking spaces.
“It is my professional opinion, based on the number of available spaces across campus currently, that another parking lot would be underutilized most of the time,” Kelley said.
Still, during peak times, students scavenge the lots for an open space. As Western shows continuing growth, a student committee led by Student Governor, Dillon Harp, has been working on recommendations for parking.
Dean of Student Affairs Judy Grimes, who meets with the committee, assured that Western is looking forward.
“There is a need for both additional commuter parking and for residential parking,” Grimes said.
The committee is discussing a variety of options to develop a long-term solution.
Grimes added that completion of construction projects will help alleviate some of the parking problems.
“When the new Chiefs facility opens, there will be additional spaces available,” she said. “As we work towards a new residence hall complex, there will be an additional parking lot built as well.”
These new lots may be the only relief students see in the near future.
Vice President of Financial Planning and Administration Mel Klinkner explained. Budget cuts from the state and tuition freezes make it hard to find funding for construction.
“The only way to get additional parking is to have revenue come in for that area [parking],” Klinkner said.
“We charge minimal… [for parking],” Klinkner said.
Student parking passes are included in the facilities access fee.