After new parking rules were met with resistance from the community, the parking policy was reverted to its previously policy
On Sept. 5, the Department of Campus Safety updated the on-campus parking policy again, just a little over one week after the start of the school year.
At the beginning of this academic year, Campus Safety introduced a new policy which allowed dormitory, Shire and University Village residents to park their vehicles in Parking Lot A on East Campus. Lot A was previously reserved for guests, commuters and faculty or staff during school days.
After one week of school with these changes, parking on East Campus was so impacted that the Student Government Association (SGA), as well as faculty and staff from various departments held meetings with Campus Safety to voice their concerns. As of Sept. 5, the parking policies have reverted back to the previously policy, except the hours for residential parking are now 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. on weekdays instead of 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m..
APU has been no stranger to parking problems over the years. Due to the limited number of parking spaces on East Campus, residential students often had to park their cars on West Campus and shuttle back to their living areas near East. Residential areas with parking lots often don’t have enough spots for all student vehicles.
“I only ever move my car on the weekends. If I move it during the week, I’ll for sure lose my parking spot,” said Jimmy Wanner, a sophomore criminal justice major living in the Shire Mods.
Wanner is one of many students who feels impacted by the parking changes. It seems like parking situations at APU don’t always favor the students. However, this is not what the goal is according to Campus Safety Chief Timothy Finneran.
“We’re trying to be student-centered,” Finneran said. “We have a safety and security thought pattern, and the parking changes were made with residential students in mind. Residential students are not just freshmen. Most of them are upperclassmen living in the Shire, University Village and across the street in apartments. Our priority is to keep them safe.”
Though the policies aimed to help residential students, some commuters felt that they were not taken into consideration. Commuter and freshman nursing major Alondra Munoz said that during the first week of school she drove around Lot A for 20 minutes before finding a spot.
“I was lucky enough to catch someone leaving a parking spot, but I was so late to class that first time [that I] don’t even bother trying anymore,” Munoz said. “Now I’ve given up, and I just park on West and take the trolley because I know for sure I can find parking there.”
Finneran said that the changes were met with resistance by staff and faculty members from various departments as well as the SGA, who stepped in on behalf of the commuters. They have been working together with a parking committee to figure out a solution to balance the “disproportionate” commuter-to-resident vehicle ratio on East.
The parking committee is chaired by Willie Hamlett, Associate Vice President of Student Life and Chief Judicial Officer, and consists of university faculty and staff. The parking committee also works closely with the Space Planning Committee, chaired by Don Davis, Ed.D., Vice President of Administration and Chief Information Officer.
Finneran said that the Space Planning Committee is working on a “master plan” for the campus as a whole. The Space Planning Committee is also working with the parking committee and other departments on a parking philosophy, which will be shared with the community once it is finished.
Campus Safety also plans on meeting with SGA this semester to work together and support each other’s initiatives.
“Something [Campus Safety] is working on is contracting with a private security company to provide extra parking lot security on West Campus in the evenings,” said Finneran.
“Right now the university has parking available, students just don’t like to use it because it’s all on West Campus. The option is there, it’s just a personal thing with the folks that work and live and study all near East. But I understand where these different groups are coming from, and I’m trying to make things better for the people that live here.”