Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Restricted parking on campus heightens tensions within Trinity

CHANEL PALACIOS ’14

OPINIONS EDITOR

 

The semester is off to a good, freezing start and everyone is surely hopeful, excited, and nervous for what this new semester will bring. However, that does not mean we should forget about last semester. A lot of changes still need to be made regarding campus safety, the social policy, and also student and faculty relations. While we move forward with new classes and warmer clothing, we need to keep these things in mind. A new semester does not necessarily mean a fresh start for our college. Students can expect more changes and we need to decide whether they are for the better.

While I think that campus safety, social change, and faculty relations are very important, it is still too early to know how some new policies and actions will change this school. Yet there is one change already underway that has had a noticeable effect on the Trinity community. This is the construction on Crescent Street. I am sure that many are excited for new dorms and hope for them to be ready by next semester, but, in reality that is unlikely because construction always takes twice as long. Unfortunately, the construction has heightened an already existing problem at Trinity: the problem of parking.

Parking at this school is nearly impossible. Perhaps this explains why freshmen are not allowed to have cars, but this just means that freshmen do not register their cars and park in obscure, off-campus areas. The lots designated for students are either extremely small, extremely far, or both. Registered cars can be parked in the Clemens lots, by Wiggins, behind North, behind High Rise, and at the end of Vernon and behind Ferris. This sounds like a lot of options; however, it’s not. There are a lot of other places where students are not allowed to park their cars, such as Jarvis, Seabury, all of Summit Street, next to Ferris, behind LSC, in front of Ferris (behind Austin Arts), and Hansen. These are the biggest parking areas on campus, and they are reserved for faculty and staff. Some of these lots do allow for student parking in the evenings, after faculty and staff have gone, but you have to move your car early in the morning to avoid getting ticketed, towed, or both. The other lots, however, do not allow student parking at any time for reasons I have yet to know. But these are the rules. Students have tried to obey the rules, but it is becoming increasingly difficult.

Cars that are parked on Summit Street, not in the designated spots but all the cars parallel parked on the actual street, began getting ticketed at the end of last semester, because it turns out those are not spots at all. These tickets are not even the usual tickets issued by campus safety, but by Hartford police, which means you actually have to pay them. On campus, cars that do not follow the rules are not treated lightly. While many city police departments wait until you have received several tickets before towing you, our own Trinity campus safety does not wait. The way that our campus enforces our parking rules is harsh and unnecessary. Sometimes (read: rarely) they’ll call you and have you move your car, sometimes they’ll give you a ticket, and sometimes they’ll just tow you. It seems based on whatever mood campus safety is in. At their nicest, they’ll call you at six or seven in the morning to move your car. This may seem obnoxiously early, but hearing their voices so early is much better than having to pay a hundred bucks to get your car back. At their meanest, they tow you and do not tell you, and make it impossible to find out if you have been towed or if your car has actually been stolen. These are some of the issues that have plagued Trinity parking for a while. Now it is time to add on some new issues.

How does the construction make any difference to parking? It takes away an alarming number of student parking spots. The lot next to Clemens is completely blocked off for equipment, leaving only the smaller lot behind Clemens. Even this lot had its own existing problem. It is one of the few small lots for students, yet faculty, who have freedom to park anywhere on campus, often park in this lot because it is closer to their classrooms or offices or wherever they have to be. A little animosity between students and faculty cannot be avoided, when faculty is parking in one of the few parking areas for students. It has always been a competition for a spot, and now the game is getting harder. Construction has always taken away nearly all the parking on Crescent Street where both registered and unregistered cars were able to park. Unregistered cars should not be ignored when it comes to parking. Many students leave their cars unregistered either because they are freshman, or the fees to register your car are just ridiculous, or even because registering your car could limit your parking areas.

All of this means that students have to park on the far ends of Vernon, the back of Ferris on Broad Street, and even on Allen Street. These lots are generally very empty, but that is for a reason. Students are encouraged not to walk alone at night, because campus safety is still an issue that can be improved on. Obviously, students are also encouraged to use the campus shuttle at night, but students need their cars too and walking to get them or walking back from parking them is just as dangerous as going out at night, and walking home. Students would rather drive around campus for an excessive amount of time wasting gas than be forced to park in those areas.

It is hard to find a solution for the parking issue on campus. Space is limited in general, but even more so for students who live here. Why can the administration not ease up the parking restrictions? Why are students not allowed to park behind Seabury, or in the Summit Street spaces, when those spaces are empty so often during the off hours? Why is faculty given so much freedom to park wherever? We can all understand that parking must be provided for them too, as this is their job, but the priority that they are given needs to be looked at again. If they are parking in the few spots that students have, it is driving our students farther away and allowing for resentment between students and faculty, when the relations are already strained for various other reasons.

Trinity is our home. Imagine not being able to pull up in your driveway, and instead having to park three blocks away. Some of you do live in places like that, but considering we have to pay to park in our home anyways, it just kind of sucks. It is seemingly small things like this that add to the problems of Trinity. This adds to the issue of campus safety, it increases problems between students and faculty, and just makes living here a bit difficult. Students, faculty, and staff should all enjoy living and working here.

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