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SEMO's parking arrangements should be more accommodating to students
One of the most unfortunate activities SEMO students face on a college campus could be the long, tedious walks whenever they need to go anywhere on campus like going to class or getting food. This issue is certainly present at SEMO and although some students have the ability to park their cars in multiple lots, most students do not get the same luxury.
The parking issue could be solved to better accommodate students by making preferred parking passes more accessible to a larger majority of students, rather than selecting students through a lottery-based seniority system.
A lot of students living on campus feel that the parking permits should be given out in an alternative way.
“I think there aren't enough parking spaces available for students. I also have an issue with the price of parking, along with the fact that permits are given out by random selections, so you don’t get to choose the lot that works better with your schedule,” senior cyber security major Andrew Parsons said.
Currently, SEMO designates lots for drivers with specified parking permits. These parking permits, such as perimeter and preferred, grant the driver the privilege of parking in certain lots. SEMO’s website states the preferred permits in particular are given out through a seniority-based lottery system.
There are plenty of open spaces in preferred lots that are consistently empty throughout the school day. Although there are numerous unoccupied spots on the lot, students who do not have the preferred pass are unable to take advantage of the convenience the spot offers them. Senior finance major William Yuede is familiar with the problem all too well.
“As a commuter, I’ve found SEMO’s parking passes to be questionable in value, particularly so when you can find parking around campus that is closer and also free,” Yuede said.
Students take risks when parking in lots they do not have permits to, and those risks are the infamous parking tickets. According to SEMO’s website, vehicles parked in preferred lots without preferred permits are fined $40 the first time and a staggering $80 every time after. This issue could be solved if parking passes were made more easily accessible for students to attain.
Strict parking rules and expensive tickets like these force students with limited time and/or in a rush into an ultimatum: be late by having to walk long distances , be lucky enough to have a shuttle coming their way in a reasonable amount of time or risk parking close to their destination and possibly receiving a ticket.
Even students working on campus have to make this decision.
“As a student worker, it’s very hard to find parking that is close to my job; sometimes, I have to walk over a mile so I won’t get a $40 ticket for parking in a spot that's empty everyday,” junior business administration major AJ Stroup said.
Although parking fees are negatively received by students, the money made by those fees are spent on SEMO’s shuttle service. This means the funds made by the cost of paying for parking along with parking tickets are going into helping students take advantage of the shuttle service.
“One of the things that I’ve always been pleased with is that the funds created by all of the parking fees are used to match the transit service that carries students around,” DPS Director Beth Glaus said.
Fortunately, SEMO is currently addressing the students’ concerns over campus parking. DPS meets with the Student Government Association (SGA) throughout the semester in order to reevaluate the criteria to park outside residence halls. Their last meeting was during spring break, and the next meeting will take place Mar. 31, according to Glaus.
SGA President Layla Bouzihay clarified plans to address student parking concerns are still in discussion.
“Some of these discussions are usually general; they're not really talking about exactly expanding upon the parking for students. The meetings are about every general issue that's associated with DPS in general, like parking tickets,” Bouzihay said.
Making preferred parking permits more accessible to students regardless of their seniority would be an excellent solution to the lack of parking dilemma. This would give the majority of students living on campus or commuting to campus more parking options that are convenient to them.
While it is necessary to enforce parking rules, perhaps students wouldn't feel so strongly about fees if they had better places to park. Especially since a huge percentage of the students' cars are parked near the recreation center since those lots have the most easily accessible pass.
Hopefully, the meetings between DPS and the student government will result in more convenient parking spaces. If SEMO goes through with their potential plans, students would be able to get around campus easier.