Director of Security Bill Whorley sent an email to students on Oct. 7, 2015, announcing that the construction of the new lot on the corner of N. West and College Street was complete, but the lot was only for faculty and staff.
He reassured campus, saying, “The really good news is that it appears that the even bigger lot, currently under construction on the south west corner of N. West St. and Galloway Dr. (north of Simpson Residence Hall) should be completed by November 1, 2015. This lot WILL be designated as a Registered Vehicles (Students) and Visitors lot, 24/7.”
The completion of the lot was delayed, but once it opened, Chief Administrative Officer Rich Péwé told the Collegian the lot would only be open to visitors, faculty, and staff.
Student rage ensued.
I propose a compromise.
The new large lot on the corner of Galloway Drive and N. West Street should be open to students 24/7, as Whorley promised us back in October. However, during the college’s busiest weekends — CCAs, Parents Weekend, Orientation, and Commencement — the lots should change to “guests only.”
Whorley should email students (as he did last week) and remind them guests come first for those weekends. Security could then ticket students who ignore common courtesy.
Those eight emails — one per event — could reduce student anxiety over parking and allow us to entertain guests simultaneously. Security currently patrols those two lots for rogue student vehicles, so this compromise might even reduce security’s workload.
The construction of the new parking lots on N. West Street took away parking from students, and the administration went back on their word regarding the newest lot.
The rationale behind the change makes sense. The college built the huge new Searle Center, which requires adequate parking for the 700 or more guests it can seat for dinner. And inviting those guests to campus is of utmost importance — many of them are donors who allow us to have the education and facilities we enjoy.
However, Hillsdale College is still a college. And colleges need students in order to exist. Students who have cars on campus want to be able to drive them up the hill — particularly when it’s five degrees out and even a cold car allows some protection from the elements.
Part of the reason more students are driving to campus is because the college tore down many of the closest off-campus homes to make way for newer and better construction. The effort is worthwhile, but until the college builds additional housing, it leaves many students living further and further from classroom buildings. Like faculty and staff members who live down the hill and drive to work, students desire that same convenience.
Instead of adding parking, recent construction has reduced the number of spots available to students. Worst of all, the new lots created for faculty and staff spend most of their time nearly-empty since, for the most part, guests aren’t around during school hours. Yet students get ticketed for parking there even when no one else needs the lot.
This compromise would allow everyone adequate parking without creating more work for anyone.
I hope the administration will consider this compromise as a fair and balanced way to handle a complicated issue.