* Photos by Nicole Rollo and Tom Doyle
Parking: It’s been talked about time and time again among Fitchburg State University students. Many of us can acknowledge it’s a problem, from the lack of parking to the expense of parking passes. There are many parking lots at FSU but it’ll cost you a price to park; $50 if you’re a commuter and $100 if you’re a resident to purchase a parking permit. Some students find this expense to be unfair while others are aggravated that the parking permit sometimes does not even guarantee a parking space. Shouldn’t free, ample parking be guaranteed to all FSU students? Students discuss:
Was Highland Plaza Necessary?
Even though prior to this year I had never had a car on campus, I can say without a doubt that I’ve been affected by the lack of parking on campus. Having dated a commuter for the last three years, I know the pain and aggravation of being very late to class, or worrying about getting a $50 parking ticket. I have friends who have kept their cars on campus for years, who have dealt with the aggravation of not getting a parking spot regardless of having a parking pass or not. This is ridiculous. If someone pays for something, one would assume that it entitles them to a certain guarantee for whatever they paid for.
The college needs to take into consideration that there are more students attending this institution every year. And regardless of the college’s recommendation that students their freshman year not bring their cars to campus, many do. Many students have cars for a lot of reasons, and some for none at all, but it’s their right as adults to be responsible and provide transportation for themselves for whatever the need is. Fitchburg state needs to realize that this is a huge problem, and it’s getting bigger every semester. Every year the college receives funding for improvements to the college; look at beautiful Highland Plaza or the reconstruction to Hammond and the new science building. However, that funding, like for Highland Plaza, more than likely would have been more appreciated by the students and faculty if it was put to a better use, like making a parking lot.
More Parking ON Campus
Parking at Fitchburg State University has always been a well-known issue. There are several parking lots available for student parking, yet most of the time when searching aimlessly for a spot, it has already been occupied. On top of never being able to find a spot you also have to pay to be allowed to park there in the first place and paying the $50 a semester does not in any way guarantee a spot to park your car.
The Civic Center is the only parking lot that students do not pay to park in. The problem with that is that the lot is way off of campus and about a 15-20 minute walk to classes. I honestly think that the whole idea of the Civic Center is absolutely ridiculous. Who would want to park in this lot and risk being late to classes while waiting for a shuttle bus or walking to where they need to be?
Instead of that, they should make more lots ON campus available to the students at NO cost. Don’t they think we pay enough just to go to school here? It just seems like any little thing they can charge for, they will.
It’s actually comical when I think about it. Look at all the new renovations they have been doing on the school. What is the need for a glass entrance and random remodeling of buildings? There is none. That is simply for the purpose of looking good. What there is a need for, though, is student parking so students aren’t forced to skip classes and hurt their academic attendance due to not having any where to park their car.
We are always hearing about bad things happening to students around campus. There are constant emails about people getting mugged, jumped, etc. You would think the administration would think about this in relation to parking. If a student cannot find parking and has to park two blocks away from the University and something bad happens to them, then what?
After all the complaints the schools administration hears from students about parking concerns, you would think that something would be done about it. It makes you wonder, what is it going to take for this problem to finally be resolved?
The Best Times to Park
I’ve been a commuter student at Fitchburg for four years now. I’ve owned the parking pass all four years. I can confidently say this semester is the first time I’ve found it pretty easy and reliable to park. It’s not because anything is improved, it’s just because, for the first time since I started at Fitchburg State, I take classes at 8 a.m. No one is here then. It also makes Friday parking somewhat easier. This is not an endorsement of parking at Fitchburg State. It’s just saying that if you have to do it, you better come at the right time.
Another commuter and I have argued about the worst time to park. He said 9:30 a.m. He’s wrong, obviously it’s 11 a.m. There is no parking at that time. Best hope is to pick up someone leaving their class and who might be heading to Ross Street in the hopes that they’ll give you their spot.
In the four years I’ve been here, with so much construction, I’ve not seen anything done to improve commuter parking. They’ve reallocated lots here and there, sure (usually mid-year, when suddenly you’re surprised to find the parking lot you’ve parked in all year is fully faculty parking now, not half-faculty, half-student), but nothing to alleviate the problems entirely.
To make matters worse, this year more than most, I feel, the commuter lots have been reserved on occasion (what feels like a weekly basis) for hosting people who have little affiliation with the school, presumably in the hopes that they’ll give us money. I don’t claim to know that’s true, but it certainly feels true. And it certainly feels like I keep giving money to this school, whether to actually attend to school or to pay to park here. There’s probably something really inherently wrong with the idea that I’ve paid to park and I can’t.
Finding a parking space on Fitchburg State campus can be a task for both resident and commuting students, and even the staff. I live in Aubuchon Hall, and I have bought the $100 parking permit for resident students. I most likely will always be able to get a space in the North 1 (on North Street) parking lot, which is permitted to resident students with the green parking permit. But, this is if I get back to campus before 6 p.m. on a Sunday. On weekdays, I can just forget about even finding a spot because rarely anyone uses his or her car; it will always be packed. But, there have been times when I have to park down near the Recreation Center – the Green 2 lot, which is smaller than the North 1, but there are usually always a few empty spots left. I believe this is due to the idea that resident students like to park nearer to the residence dorms, such as Aubuchon and Russell Towers.
I would have no problem if I had to park down at the Civic Center, but it’s a really long walk from the main campus. With the reconstruction of the science building and Highland Avenue, students and staff have lost some parking spaces and are having troubles finding a spot.
Certainly in order for the science building to be constructed, something had to be lost, and that was a parking lot. I understand the college’s reason for wanting to appeal the future generations, who will be entering college, with a new science building and the newly glass-windowed Hammond center, but unfortunately the construction does not please those (students and staff) in need of a parking spot. It’s unfair for any student or staff to get to the Fitchburg campus an hour or two before class starts.
Civic Center Parking Leads to Missed Classes
As a commuter student, my mornings usually begin by circling around Highland and Myrtle Avenue, passing by the rows of parked cars, desperately searching for a parking space. I perform this same routine every day, knowing fully well that it results in annoyance and frustration, but what are my other options?
I could just park at the Civic Center, but I’d rather not wait around 15 minutes for a shuttle bus to arrive, especially with the cold weather fast approaching. Also, unless you arrive at the Civic Center 20 minutes before your class starts, you can forget about being on time. I’ve seen many students get impatient waiting for the bus to arrive and end up walking to class.
I could just buy a parking permit but there’s something that doesn’t seem right about that. Why should I pay $50 a semester to park within close proximity to the college, on top of the tuition I pay? Especially, when I’ve heard from other students that parking is not even guaranteed after you purchase a parking permit since the lots fill up so quickly.
The university seems perfectly fine making investments in the visual appeal of the school such as the recent construction of the Hammond glass tower, but what about starting with the practical things students actually need? Like more available parking. This issue is larger than just parking; it’s a failure of the school to recognize the needs of its students. The university is so intent on drawing new students in, that it fails to recognize the needs of the students it already has.