This time of year is always special. The weather cools. The colors change: Everything seems to turn orange and smell like pumpkin spice. The leaves on the trees also change color, and the campus starts to look so lovely, especially the west side of campus with its amphitheatre and its new rock-studded sidewalk.
But you can’t really see any of that driving down Hillsdale Street because of the line of rusty 10 to 15-year-old cars driven by off-campus students, most of whom probably haven’t registered their cars with security and therefore can’t risk parking in the designated lots.
Which I totally understand. It’s more convenient than Hillsdale College’s parking lots, and you don’t have to pay anything to park there. It just makes sense economically: save time and money.
For the record: I am certainly not speaking from experience, nor can I suggest not registering your car because students are required to register their cars.
Back when I was a freshman, there were parking spots on campus. Now that I live off campus and need to drive up the hill, there are none. Maybe I’m just now realizing the problem exists, or maybe it’s due to the fact that the college decided to build a Tolkien-esque tower and a new women’s dorm at the same time.
Either way, there are very few spots to park and fewer that are actually convenient for students to use.
“Well,” some of the less sympathetic among you will condescend, “What’s wrong with parking over by the Simpson parking lot?”
“What’s wrong” is how inconvenient parking is. I drive my car because it’s convenient. I use paper towels because they’re convenient. How about you use a flip phone? Or take the stairs every time? Why don’t you wear your clothes backward so that you can’t put your hands in your pockets when your fingers get cold?
There’s nothing wrong with wanting convenience, and if we’re going to pay $50 for a place to park, is it too much to ask that it be within a few miles of where we need to be every day?
Let me put it this way: Do you know how many burritos you can buy from Taco Bell with $50? Forty-seven Beefy Fritos Burritos (you gotta save $3 for tax). If we’re spending that many burritos on registering our cars, it would be nice to get to class a few minutes after parking (if it’s not too much to ask for).
Right now, the most convenient places to park are actually owned by the city: Manning Street is good, Hillsdale Street is usually crowded, but very convenient, and Summit Street also works in a pinch.
Parking there also means you don’t actually need to register (again, not an action that I condone). But, I’ve never seen anyone get a ticket for parking on Hillsdale Street, even in front of fire hydrants and too close to the corner. Plus, Hillsdale’s new parking policy means that students who don’t register their cars will be fined $75 plus the infraction fine, so it might just be worth taking your chances with the cops.
If security wanted more students to register their cars, they should have something to offer them instead of long walks through historic Hillsdale just to get to class. Maybe students could receive vouchers for ice cream from A.J.’s Café or other incentives.
But as it is, the students aren’t getting enough parking spaces to make it worth all 47 burritos.
Brendan Clarey is a senior studying English.