Valcourt: The Parking Problem

Chelsea Valcourt's car getting a ticket. Photo via Arts & Entertainment Editor Chelsea Valcourt

As I arrived at class last week, I took a deep breath of relief knowing that I was a good 15 minutes early. I pulled into Lot Y, located behind the baseball field, and after circling the small lot, discovered there was no parking available.

Frustrated but determined, I pulled out and drove down the road to Lot R, behind Bole Hall. Again, I was troubled to find a parking spot. I glanced down at my clock and realized my class had started two minutes ago.

I pulled out of the parking lot and went to the adjacent lot, Lot P, only to discover that it was an employee lot. In an act of desperation, I went down to the retail parking behind the Whitney apartment complex– full again.

I knew I couldn’t park in Lots Z-1, G, H, H-1, S, T or the Townhouse lot, the only lots left on that side of Rt. 322. So, I went to the next closest parking lot: Lot J, behind Discovery Hall.

Now fifteen minutes late to my 9 a.m. class, I drove up and down the rows of Lot J. After yet again coming up empty, I circled again out of pure desperation– still nothing.

At this point, I contemplated not attending class at all but, as I knew this was a class I enjoyed and needed to keep up with, I headed back over to Lot Y to see if someone had left.

I found nothing but I remember looking around and thinking, “What a waste of opportunity?”

There are so many spots in Lot Y that aren’t legally parking spots because they either have yellow painted lines over them, university vehicles parked in them, or poles sticking up through the space. I had seen other students had made their own parking spots but I’m in no position to be able to afford a $44 Glassboro parking ticket, so I couldn’t risk it.

I pulled out of the parking lot once again, pulled over to the side of the road in a residential area, and emailed my professor letting him know that I was going to be a fair bit late to the class. I stopped for a moment and contemplated parking there but Glassboro’s new signs that read “PARKING BY PERMIT ONLY,” forced me to head to Lot O behind the engineering building. At this point, it was almost a third of the way through my three-hour class.

While I was able to finally find a spot, I knew that by the time I walked to Bozorth, it would be another 15 to 20 minutes. I figured I’d give closer parking spots one last try and so I revisited all my previous parking lots before finding one behind Whitney and sprinting to class.

Not only does a lack of available parking take students out of the classroom, but it also puts a strain on resources such as gas.

This is just one of many stories of students having a terrible time finding parking for their classes. There should be more parking for students on the opposite side of Rt. 322, as it often feels like that side is tucked away and ignored. It feels distant from the rest of campus as it’s further from parking, food locations, and building improvements.

Another issue with college parking lies in its cost. Parking passes at other New Jersey colleges can range from $980 per year at the New Jersey Institute of Technology to being completely free at Stockton and Kean. After some online research, I discovered that out of New Jersey colleges with publicly accessible parking costs, Rowan’s parking is one of the cheapest– excluding those that are free.

While Rowan’s parking passes are not as expensive as other colleges, it is discouraging to know that financial aid cannot go towards the purchase of one. There are barely, if any, free parking opportunities near campus, leaving commuter students with little to no options for parking beside the university’s lots.

According to Rowan’s permit store, a “Commuter Fall/Spring 2022-23” permit costs $140, a “Resident Fall/Spring 2022-2023” permit costs $215, and permits for parking in Mick Drive Garage, Townhouse Garage and Rowan Blvd Garage cost $340 each.

For some commuter students, $140 a year is a lot of money to have all at once, especially when combined with the need to pay bills. Return checks from financial aid can be used towards the cost but students don’t typically receive that money until mid-way through the semester. At that point, it’s too late.

Parking is something that nearly every college struggles with and while there certainly isn’t a perfect solution, Rowan can start by evaluating need. With Bunce, Bozorth, Hawthorn and a slurry of administrative buildings, two commuter lots are hardly enough. Lots Y and R are only two of 11 parking lots on that side of Rt. 322, excluding the annexed Ellis Street Lot. The lots themselves are rather small, and after some simple counting, I noticed they only allow for less than 50 cars each.

Increased parking alleviates congestion along Rt. 322, saves students’ time, resources and eases stress amongst employees and students alike. There is no clear answer but with the welcome of Rowan’s largest freshman class, it’s becoming a more prevalent issue.

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