I treated last week the same as any week. I got up an hour before class began, took a shower, took my dog out, got ready for my day, and left my apartment with 20 minutes to spare.
What I did not account for, however, was spending those 20 minutes circling around campus and the overall Greenville area looking for a parking spot that would not get me ticketed or towed. This happened not once, but twice in the span of the first week of classes.
This is not the first time an East Carolina University student has had to miss or be late to a class due to the lack of adequate parking on campus. I had multiple friends tell me last semester about times it happened to them, as well as experiencing it once or twice for myself.
The second time is arguably my fault. I probably should have planned extra time to account for walking distance. I do have an off-campus friend who lets me park at her house when necessary, but that only works when I actually have time to park.
However, I would argue that the bigger problem is how little parking is available to off-campus students in the first place, and with how expensive parking passes are.
First, it should be mentioned that part of the problem is the growth of the university. I love having more people attend, as student body size can have a huge impact on state funding and I just like seeing my school grow.
Right now, if I were to buy a parking pass, I would either have to neglect my rent, my electric bill or food for the month. Even the cheapest passes are nearly twice my electric bill, and are only good for parking all the way at the football stadium. The 610 Minges bus does admittedly make it not so bad, but the fact remains that many students can’t afford a pass.
The biggest frustration, to me, is the fact that we need to pay to park at all. I’m sure there’s a reason for the parking pass system, but from the perspective of a student, I am already paying thousands of dollars every semester to attend, and yet I have to shell out an additional couple hundred every year just so I can park at the university I pay for?
I moved off campus because paying rent in an apartment is less expensive than paying for a dorm and a meal plan which I did not really use. I find it odd that the Parking and Transportation website only allows off-campus students to purchase C passes.
You would think those of us off campus would need the closer parking lots more, while those living on campus typically use their cars less and therefore would not need the closer spots. That logic certainly seems to be employed in the case of only allowing D passes for freshmen. What makes on-campus upperclassmen any different?
There are exceptions, of course. I agree that faculty and staff should get priority access to closer parking, as well as RA’s. And obviously the parking garage has helped immensely since opening. However, on the days I mentioned above, there was not a single parking spot available in the garage by 9:10 a.m.
I can think of a few things I would do to improve the way things are, from realistic to unrealistic. Starting with the more fanciful solutions, I would prefer to see a few key parking lots reserved for the special cases I pointed out. Keeping D lot as the freshman lot is fine as well. However, from there I don’t think parking lots should be broken up into categories. Just let everyone buy the same pass, and then it is first-come, first-serve for spots on any given day.
More realistically, I would like to see ECU build another parking deck before adding on to the Millennial Campus. The Biotech building that is currently under construction is certainly a good, high-profile addition to campus, but if it effectively brings more students to ECU the way administration surely wants it to, we simply don’t have the infrastructure in place to support how many commuters that will likely produce.
To be clear, I don’t claim to have all the answers to this question. I am not an expert in the logistics of ECU’s parking situation. However, I think it is ridiculous that a student attending a university should be penalized because they can’t afford a parking pass and the university doesn’t have enough parking spaces available within reasonable walking distance to campus. If administration can find a solution to this problem, it would go a long way towards improving the experience of the student body.