The politics of Loras parking
Homework, essays and exams are a few stressors that any student or faculty member at Loras experiences throughout the course of a week. However, there is another thing that over 100 students and faculty members are worried about outside of the classroom: finding a parking spot.
Parking at Loras is one of the most talked about topics on campus at any given time of year. According to the Loras College Student Handbook, “The College does not guarantee parking spaces by sale of a permit. Parking is always on an ’as available’ basis. Using vehicles and parking at Loras is a privilege, not a right.” A standard parking pass runs a cost of $100 for students if they choose to buy the pass for both semesters, although there are other pass options for semester-long terms and visitors. Faculty and staff members do not have to pay for a parking pass but still need to fill out the information about their vehicles. Despite this fact a vast majority of students, faculty and staff believe that parking regulations on campus need to be revisited.
To gage opinions about the current parking situation in general, 174 members of the Loras community responded to a survey sent by The Lorian. Most of the responses came from faculty and staff at 26.4 percent, followed by juniors at 24.1 percent, seniors at 18.4 percent, first-years at 17.2 percent and sophomores at 13.8 percent. 162 responders answered yes to having a car on campus, accounting for 93.2 percent of total responses. A vast majority of responders, regardless of whether or not they have a car on campus, identified one parking lot as having the most problems: the Hoffmann parking lot, which not only has spots for faculty and staff but also students living in Beckman Hall, Binz Hall, and even the Lynch-McCarthy Apartments.
“Hoffmann has a limited amount of parking for the amount of people who work and have class there,” one Loras senior said. “Having that parking that flows into the lots for Beckman and Binz makes it even more confusing as to where students can and cannot park.”
Of the total number of student responders 43.5 percent live on lower campus and use the same lower lot to park their cars, thus making the situation even more crowded. This contributed to the 74.4 percent of responders who do not feel there is enough parking on campus. Many students find themselves being ticketed in a faculty parking spot at any hour of the day.
“A lot of the parking spots are not clearly marked, especially for faculty and staff members,” a Loras sophomore commented. “It makes things difficult because sometimes I think I’m parking my car in a student spot, but I’ll come out the next morning and see a ticket on my windshield.”
At other institutions, it is common for universities to rescind on-campus parking privileges to underclassmen in order to free up spots for upperclassmen who have internships and off-campus commitments. However, quite a few students—not just first years—believe that not having parking for underclassmen at Loras is not the best solution to help the current situation.
“Parking issues should not be solved by seniority. Being able to bring a car to campus as an underclassman was something I looked for in my college search,” one Loras senior said.
“Underclassmen are the ones living in the residence halls with parking lots outside them, so they should be able to park in those spots,” a first-year student added. “They have off-campus jobs as well, so they should be allowed to have cars.”
A few members of the community pointed out that Loras is rather lucky to have the parking privileges they have, as many other institutions are not as lucky with limiting parking for underclassmen.
“I went to the University of Iowa and their parking was much more expensive and inconvenient,” a junior said. “I think student complaints about parking at Loras are exaggerated if you compare us to other colleges.”
In the midst of the various positive and negative opinions, many responders suggested ways to make the parking situation easier. Clearer signs and markers for different types of parking and non-parking areas was a popular topic, including visitor spots, faculty spots, fire lanes and handicapped spots. On lower campus where the parking issue is at its largest, having a specific number of staff spaces would allow more students to park without any ramifications. Several responders also brought up ways to help disperse parking more evenly around campus.
“My daughter goes to another college, and they offer closer parking for the older students and the first-years have to park farther away from buildings, like in Keane,” a faculty member said. “I think this could be something to consider.”
“The back lot next to Keane should be for first-year students who can’t fit into parking directly outside their residence halls,” a sophomore student agreed. “It would help the traffic flow and encourage students to walk more, too.”
In addition to designating an area for underclassmen, another popular topic brought up was the amount of parking passes available for purchase each year. Several students and faculty members expressed that there are too many parking passes given out each year, although the student handbook states that campus security does not sell more permits than there are spots on Loras’ campus. A few students believe they should get a parking spot for themselves depending on where they live. But many responders can agree on one thing: change needs to be made.
“I know a lot of people have different opinions based on where they park,” a Loras senior commented. “But I think change needs to be made somewhere. It doesn’t have to be major, but change might help put a lot of students and faculty members at ease when it comes to parking.”