Could SMU move first-year residents’ cars to East Campus lots?

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SMU drivers are either early because they had to find parking, or late because they couldn’t find it. Over the course of several weeks, we have collected over 40 pages of student and staff input on parking, and we heard numerous accounts about the challenges commuting students face.

Take the situation of upperclassman commuter Lamisa Mustafa, who drives about 40 minutes to school, or Cheyenne Murray who drives about an hour to and from campus. They begin their commute as early as they feasibly can for parking, yet they still must take on a daily quest for a free spot after their long treks across the DFW metroplex.

“As a commuter student with an hour plus commute, it’s ridiculous that parking lots are full by 10 a.m.,” Murray said. “And that students with resident parking permits are parking in areas designated for commuters, especially when it’s raining or cold outside.”

“With the amount of money I paid for a parking permit, it shouldn’t be too much to ask that I can find a spot that is supposed to be reserved for people with my permits,” Murray continued.

Students indicated in our collection of testimonials they sometimes have to search for parking for as much as 10-20 minutes. Students also shared they have to come several hours earlier to campus for parking.

For students who work during the day and must come to campus in the afternoon, parking is a challenge. For part time students who have busy lives apart from school, these students do not always have the option to come in early and stay on campus.

Student Jayne Herring is an international studies major. As a result of scarce parking options and a tight schedule, she has adopted a strategy that involves waiting for the ten minute interim between classes to search for parking, in the hopes that a student will be vacating a parking spot at that time.

“I have a very short window to get to my class in the morning with my husband and I have to sometimes go through three lots and parking garages with a permit that I paid for before I can find a spot,” Herring said.

“I’ve certainly missed classes before because parking is that bad,” Herring said.

One potential solution to this parking shortage would be the use of East Campus parking, particularly by first-year, yellow permit holders, who live on campus and do not need their cars to commute to campus.

The Daily Campus asked follow-up questions to evaluate the feasibility of this idea, but Mark Rhodes did not comment. In our initial conversation with Rhodes, he did mention several points that speak to the feasibility of this solution:

  1. Rhodes said the school will be implementing license plate recognition technology. Parking tickets will be virtual (no parking sticker tickets), and cameras mounted on golf carts will scan license plates to determine whether or not your car is in the right location. The classification of first-year, yellow resident permits can simply be another classification of virtual parking permit within the license plate recognition system.
  2. Few people park in east campus, and traffic can be diverted there. Some cars do not frequently leave campus, and parking those cars on east campus would free space up for commuters.
  3. A shuttle bus is available to transport students from East Campus to SMU’s main campus.
  4. The time restrictions for first-year, on-campus residents’ cars can be the same as normal parking time rules. For instance, those cars must be on east campus during the 9 a.m.-5 p.m. day, but can be on main campus during the evenings and weekends. That way, if a first year were to return late on the evenings or weekends, they can park on campus. Obviously, this request to keep one’s car on East Campus does not apply to students in need of disability accommodations.
  5. This request for first-year residents to park on East Campus can exempt students who have to work off-campus, where the walk/shuttle ride from east campus would take away time they could have spent working.

The hope behind this article is to relieve the burden of working, part-time, and commuting students. By moving weekday, static cars to another location, more space is freed up. This is not to burden first-year students, but to encourage an equitable parking system.

The Daily Campus welcomes opinion contributions from students, faculty, and staff. Submissions should be no more than 1000 words and are subject to editing. Please email submissions to dcopinion@smu.edu. Submissions must include your SMU ID and a cell phone number for verification.

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