The Fitchburg State University campus is always buzzing with students, some of whom have learned the art of parking on school grounds. An online poll conducted on October 26, 2018, via the University’s ‘Class of 2020’ Facebook page showed that 82% of students are still figuring this out. A total of 138 students participated in answering the following question; “have you recently felt frustrated with the availability of parking on campus”? The percentage who voted “yes” (113 students) is overwhelming compared to the 1.5% who voted “no” (2 students).
While students are concerned about the general availability of parking, they also expressed specific concerns about the proximity of open spaces within lots. The campus has many small parking lots and one main lot across from the Conlon Fine Arts building, which is located on the farther end of where classes are held. Ashley Grant commented by saying; “as a commuter, you basically have to show up like an hour before class just to find a spot and make it to class on time.” The University might be unaware, but many students do feel anxiety in this regard; as suggested by their statements. It is commonly said that if you arrive past 8 am, then the chance of finding a spot ‘time-friendly’ to your classes is very slim. “It’s like a huge money maker for them while we can’t find a spot for 20 minutes”, Hannah Pollan said.
Students later added another option to the online poll. 2.9% (4 students) answered, “I never have trouble parking, but that’s because I choose to park at Civic.” The Civic Center parking lot is the largest 24-hour lot available to students, staff and visitors. While this is ideal in terms of availability, the distance makes it a challenge to get to class on time. Shuttles are helpful in these situations; however, most students in a rush would decide to walk rather than wait 15 minutes for another bus to arrive. On-street parking is also non-favorable due to possible fines. Dan McDonald gave an example, “nothing like paying one hundred dollars to never have a spot.” The University has teamed up with a carpool service as well, eRideShare, although it is not known to what extent. The outcome of this new partnership may lead to advanced technology, which in turn could ease the struggles of daily parking.
It is important to note that the Facebook poll was the only piece of numerical information made attainable. On October 12, 2018, the reporter attempted to gain information on a commuter-residential ratio from the Admissions Office but was directed to Parking Services, making contact on October 15th. As of October 24th, Parking Services redirected the reporter to higher departments such as The Board of Trustees and have yet to respond to any initial questions. For example, the mystery still stands on why the price of parking permits raised from $50 to $75, which has not been updated online since November 7th, 2018.