General parking petition sparks conversation
Recently, on the Living at Southeast Facebook page, a petition was shared in support of general parking on campus.
General parking would merge preferred, commuter and perimeter parking into one, eliminating the need for expensive parking permits. The parking lots would be classified as general, faculty/staff and visitor only. Every public state school in Missouri has a similar system to ours at Southeast except for Missouri Southern State University, Lincoln University and Missouri Western State University, which have general parking.
The petition was created by sophomore theatre major Brianna Justine, who decided to create it after her and other students noticed a large increase in ticketing during theatre rehearsals on River Campus.
“It [the petition] was really to get some attention because I don’t know if general parking is the final solution for the issue of parking on campus, but I do think there is a solution that we can reach,” Justine said. “If we got some higher-ups’ attention, then maybe we could sit down and talk about the next step or how we could make parking more accessible for everyone without having people pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars for parking tickets.”
Her concern and other student concerns about safety are being taken to the Department of Public Safety and the university police by the Student Safety Committee, which is made up of five student government members. Committee Chairperson, Grace Grzywa, a senator for the College of Education, Health and Human Studies said she has been working as a bridge between students and DPS.
Grzywa said she often reaches out to those who post on the Facebook page. When she looked into the general parking petition, she felt not everybody signed for the same reasons.
“The petition is focused on getting general parking for everyone on campus, but a lot of the comments themselves are talking about not paying for parking at all and all kinds of stuff like that,” Grzywa said. “In my opinion, from a student government perspective, it doesn’t seems like everyone is on the same page about what the petition is for. A lot of what is on there is just complaints, and not that we should rally behind this cause.”
Grzywa said DPS and Parking Services are aware of the petition, and have been working toward a proposal to improve parking as a whole since the beginning of the semester. She also said the details are still in the works.
Ann Hayes spoke for DPS and said they have not been able to review it fully and are working with a variety of departments including the student safety committee.
“University administration has engaged in active dialogue on parking and a variety of student-safety issues this semester as part of a University Safety Task Force,” Hayes said.
The new task force and the Student Safety Committee have been working towards solutions for the concerns brought up during forums held back in September. The majority of concerns students mentioned were about the lack of lighting on campus, and since then Facilities Management has been working on proposals to increase lighting across campus.
DPS director Beth Flauss told Grwyza that general parking used to exist at Southeast during the late 1980’s, but after a lack of available spots and other problems the university searched for a solution. A consultant came to the university and evaluated Southeast’s campus as they do other with other universities. The consultant recommended the system Southeast has now.
When complaints and issues are brought up about parking, the committee takes them to the task force.
Grzywa said that what a lot of people don’t understand is that every organization that falls under auxiliary, DPS, shuttles, university police, and parking services are not given a set about of funds, they have to create their own to be able to do their jobs.
“So if there were no parking fees to buy a parking pass, or no penalty for students who shouldn’t be parking on campus, there would not be funds to pay for security on campus, shuttles, emergency phones, security cameras, all things that students want, all things students need to be safe on campus,” Grzywa said. “That money has to come from somewhere and I hope people are mindful of that.”
Grzywa also said that the parking manager is working on a new parking proposal, and it will focus on allowing more seniors to have preferred parking spots and similar changes that will happen with the residence lots as well.
Parking Services plan to have the details out before the lottery begins in mid-summer.