Well, we may as well just say it: This campus has a parking problem. While students can normally find a spot at the distant William and Mary Hall, finding convenient parking close to dormitories or classrooms is a different story altogether. Until the College of William and Mary begins to foster programs that make life easier for students who leave their cars at home for the year, this problem will plague the College for years to come.
Students here pay a premium for parking that is rarely available — and this only a few years after the new parking garage was built. Fortunately, we go to school on a small, walkable campus where students do not always need to drive to class. But getting around on foot in Williamsburg can be difficult, so many keep cars here full-time just so they will be able to run errands. As a result, most parking areas on campus have low turnover rates, and finding a spot in the morning can be a nightmare.
Many colleges and cities have responded to the same set of difficulties by beginning car-sharing programs, and it is time we consider the same approach. These programs would allow students easy access to vehicles at all hours for reasonable hourly or daily rates. All it would take is a few clicks on a website to be on the road. Implementing this kind of program on campus would go a long way toward reducing congestion and demand for parking.
As for getting around on campus, the College already has created a good bike rental program, and it should be expanded. Many places have tried automated bike sharing systems with great success. These systems conveniently allow participants to check out a bike in one location using a credit card or student ID and leave it at a bike rack near their destination.
The College should start to do more to help resident and commuter students who have been paying more and getting less for far too long. Until then, we’ll keep circling the lot.