Lauren Meyer ‘24 is an Anthropology and History double major. Besides writing opinions for The Flat Hat, Lauren participates in anthropology club and club field hockey on campus. Her favorite beverage is a Strawberry Kiwi CapriSun, which is indubitably the best flavor. Contact Lauren at email@example.com.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own
When one spends nearly $400 on a parking pass for the year, one expects to be able to park relatively easily on campus. Is this the current state of affairs on campus? I would say no.
Parking was already a stressor last year, but with the closure of the Yates parking lot due to construction, there’s even less parking, which creates even more competition for spots “close” to classes. I say “close” because almost all of the parking options for students are on the west side of campus; the main spots for commuters are the Parking Deck and the Kaplan Arena Parking Lot, and residential parking is primarily situated along the roads near the Green and Gold Village, fraternity row, the Commons Dining Hall (better known as Caf), DuPont Hall and the Botetourt Complex. Notably, all of these spots are away from classes on Old Campus and upperclassmen housing. Students in One Tribe Place and Richmond Hall have access to their own parking garages, but upperclassmen on Old Campus are forced to walk to the other side of campus to get to their vehicle.
I understand why, of course. Parts of Old and Historic Campus are quite literally caged in with roads on either side, leaving very little space for added parking options, which would ruin campus aesthetics. Students with one class or two classes back to back in places like James Blair Hall or the Sir Christopher Wren Building could park on Richmond Road and walk from there. But students who plan to be on campus longer than just a couple of hours either have to park on the far side of campus or face receiving parking tickets since all of the parking along Richmond Road is strictly limited to two hours.
Here’s where I get really frustrated: If I leave my apartment 20 minutes before class (a relatively normal amount of time to leave, I’d think), take five minutes to drive to campus, and successfully park in the Parking Deck or Kaplan, whichever one I happen to go to, I’ll probably make it to class with about three minutes to spare. If, however, I go to one lot and it’s full, I’ll probably be late to class. This is especially frustrating when you drive to the parking deck and figure out it’s full while inside and have to somehow extract yourself from the mess that is multiple cars stuck in a parking garage without an easy way to turn around (ie: a parking spot).
Something that could make this a little easier would be to put a “full” or “open” sign on the Parking Deck — even having the number of spots left could be helpful. That way, students ideally would not enter the garage if it’s full and save themselves the hassle of searching for a spot that’s not there. Of course, one could just resign themselves to always parking in Kaplan, which is usually less crowded than the parking garage. But for students with classes in Boswell Hall, the Raymond A. Mason Business School, or other buildings on that side of campus, Kaplan’s inconvenient location adds ten to 15 minutes to their commute since it is not particularly close to any academic building.
I do commend the parking services department for reassigning the stretch of parking spaces between Kaplan and Caf to first come, first serve parking between commuters, residents and faculty and staff, like the Kaplan lot currently is. It shows that they recognize and are trying to deal with some of the issues on campus, which I readily appreciate. It is probably not their fault that there is a lack of parking on campus. What irks me, however, is that in the “West 1 Housing and Dining” plan, consisting of the new residence and dining facilities where Yates was, there is no replacement parking for the Yates lot.
It is entirely possible that I missed where they’re adding in a parking lot or deck, or they’re adding it somewhere else. But in the current plan, there is still no parking on that side of West campus. Maybe they’ll add parking when they demolish Caf, GGV or Botetourt. But those projects are to be completed after the construction of the new housing and dining facilities, which means that the precarious parking situation on campus is probably going to last for at least another couple of years.
Is there anything to be done about this? I’m not sure. But, as a student, it bothers me that while the College of William and Mary has taken away resident and commuter spots in the center of campus (like the resident spots on Landrum Dr.), they have not provided similarly convenient alternatives. I understand that faculty and staff also need parking on campus, but that’s almost beside the point — the larger issue is the competition for parking spaces that are only shrinking in number. Going forward, I hope that the administration will consider additions to their current expansion plans or put out parking change considerations so that at least someone has a stress-free parking future to look forward to.