Parking can be inconvenient at any college or university. At Elizabethtown College, the campus is fortunately small enough that it can be crossed in a 10-minute walk or less. My roommate attended Penn State University main campus for a year, where her walk to classes every day was 30 minutes, despite living in standard campus housing. By comparison, a 10 minute walk is a pretty doable trek. That being said, campus could revisit not only the parking locations but also whether the parking is sufficient for its student body.
Assistant Director of Campus Security Dale Boyer explained the logic behind the allocation of parking spaces on campus. Faculty and staff parking remains the same throughout the years, with the lots most central to academic buildings going to them. Campus Security then looks at what lots are closest to the dorms and the academic year of students in each dorm. For example, juniors and seniors can park in the Hackman Apartments lots.
Commuter students then are placed in lots not near dormitories or in professor parking, which unfortunately, leaves the farthest parking lots available. Being a commuter myself, parking becomes most inconvenient in the winter when I need to leave campus after 8 p.m. in below freezing weather (this unseasonably warm winter aside).
Junior and fellow commuter Mary Kondash agreed that parking regulations become more cumbersome, particularly when she needs to leave campus at night during the winter. “When I’m in 20 layers and I’m shivering, I don’t want to walk across campus to get to my car,” Kondash said. “We’re the ones who have to walk to our cars every day. We shouldn’t park the farthest away.”
After 4 p.m., students can park in Hoover lot, which is significantly closer to the academic buildings than the parking lot in Leffler Chapel and Performance Center. However, Kondash does believe this system is inconvenient. “I’d rather just find something to do than drive home and drive back to campus,” she said.
What causes a greater issue than the location of some of the lots is the amount of spaces in those parking lots. The closest lot for commuters to academic buildings is Chapel East lot in Leffler, but when those spaces fill up, students must park in either the Young Center, Brown lot or the Church of the Brethren lot.
“For the most part there are enough spaces; however, they may not be convenient spaces, and there’s the rub,” Boyer said. Particularly when events occur on campus, such as last semester’s First Folio, parking is reserved for outside guests of the event, causing residential students to park in Chapel East, which results in commuters having to park in farther lots. Boyer also said certain events, such as concerts in Leffler or athletic events, also lead to visitors parking in Chapel East, leaving few spots for commuters to park.
Junior commuter Mary Walsh agreed that for all students, whether commuters or residential, parking near dorms or academic buildings can be a difficult task. “Parking’s like a hot commodity on campus,” she said.
Students can try to resolve this issue by carpooling. Kondash said she and Walsh will drive to campus together if they know parking will be limited that day. “We call each other and pick each other up. That way we only have one parking space to find instead of two,” Kondash said.
All this leads to the question of whether or not the College should try to provide more accessible parking for students. Boyer said Etown currently has plans to add parking spaces to Myer lot in the field area between Myer Hall and Campus Security.
These parking spaces would likely be given to commuters and would make parking more convenient for events held in the Susquehanna Room. However, the construction has been delayed because of other projects, such as the Sports, Fitness and Wellness Center.
Walsh felt that increasing parking spaces should not be a high priority for the College. “Right now there are enough [parking spaces] for people,” Walsh said. “I just think people don’t like how far away they are.”
On the other hand, Kondash said that since the campus doesn’t currently have the funds for a fitness center, it would be better to put in more parking spaces and slowly accrue funds for the fitness center.
Although renovation and expansion projects will always be on the College’s priority list as Etown’s student body evolves and grows, it may be wise to consider whether the College should begin focusing increasing convenient parking spaces for students.
Although parking, because of the size of the campus, is never a far walk by comparison to some other colleges and universities, more spaces in close proximity to campus would lessen the burden of parking, not only for commuters but also the student body as a whole.