Thursday, October 9, 2008

Parking and the DOTS Dilemma

Freshman winter was particularly cold. For me at least. I would make the half-mile trek from Somerset Hall to Lot 6 at least twice a week. The times I forgot my keys embarrasingly multiplies that number. Still, I had a car and that car gave me independence. After all, I could always leave.

Many of next year's freshmen will have no such option. An increase in demand, construction projects, and enviromental initiatives have put a defecit on parking spaces next year. As a result, it is projected that many freshmen will not be able to bring cars when they move into their new home this fall.

The Deportment of Transportation Services (DOTS) must find ways to minimize this defecit.

Faculty currently have top priority for parking followed by commuters and finally residents. DOTS has this priority order right. After all, without teachers we would not have a university. Commuters also need parking to engage in the university at a most basic level. If a shortage exists, unfortunately it is the residents that must accept that burden.

While the negative effects of the burden rightly fall on residents, DOTS must recognize that the price is not small for us. The university is our home. When a person cannot have a car at their home it impacts everyday functions in thier life. Meals and eating habits change with reduced access to grocery stores. Employment opportunities fade without access to them. Visits to family and friends also become impractical. When people cannot keep a car at home their life changes. Freshmen residents at the university are no different.

DOTS has a responsibility to reduce the parking defecit so that next year's freshmen can receive cars. This means two things. First and most importantly, DOTS must not allow empty spaces on campus to go unfilled. Secondly, Transportation Services must introduce initiatives that will encourage alternative methods of transportation.

Many options exist on the second point. David Allen, who currently serves as the director of DOTS, has already proposed a carpooling plan that would free up spaces while rewarding its participants. Encouraging local residents, especially those like myself in Courtyards and the View, should be encouraged to take public transportation instead of taking an extra space. Motorcyling and bicycling options should also be enhanced to create space. DOTS should implement these excellent ideas by next year to reduce the burden on freshmen residents.

DOTS and the administration should not underestimate the impacts that will come from lacking access to a car their freshmen year. For some it may be a luxury, but to others it is a beam in their lives. Simple initiatives can create space that will help students keep cars at their temporary homes. While commuters and faculty rightfully maintain priority, resident students should not accept and DOTS should not allow any shortage to become needlessly far-reaching.

Danny Leydorf
Student Groups and Organizations Liaison

1 comment:

Scott said...

This looks great! Good job of summing up what seems to be going on.