With the largest incoming class now on campus, student complaints of having nowhere to park have followed. However, with 717 registered vehicles – including students and staff – and 1,033 non-restricted parking spaces not designated for visitors, motorcycles, or unloading, a more accurate complaint would be having nowhere close to park.
Students seem to believe that their inability to find a close parking space is due to the dramatic increase in cars on campus, but the data suggests something different. When asked to guess how many more cars there were on campus compared to last year, student responses ranged from “at least 25” to more than a hundred. As of now, there are 407 student vehicles registered – an increase of only nine compared to this time last year. Look back one more year, to 2013, and the difference jumps up to 29, slightly more significant but not dramatically so.
It was thought that the parking problems around the residence halls could be the result of a greater number of students living on campus, but even those numbers do not account for the perceived increase in cars. The fall 2014 semester began with 646 on-campus students, while fall 2015 began with 657 – an increase of only 11.
This could explain the parking competition on the academic side of campus. In order to accommodate the increase of students, a greater number of upper-years were granted off-campus approval. This semester New College has 221 students living off-campus, a 43-student increase from the previous fall. More students living off campus means more students driving to class and looking for parking near ACE and the Heiser Natural Sciences Complex.
With more than 1,000 parking spaces on campus, the problem is not that there are not enough spaces, but that students want to be as close as possible to their destination. The 1,033 parking spaces referenced at the beginning of this article include parking spaces at Old Caples (8 spaces), Sainer Pavilion (41 spaces) and the Keating Center (20 spaces) as well as the lot behind the library, which was closed until this past Monday.
Student frustration has stemmed from circling the parking lots closest to the residence halls and classrooms. The lot in front of Sudakoff holds 125 regularly registered vehicles and the lot behind Ham holds 77. The Heiser and ACE parking lots total 122 spaces together.
The complaints about parking are relative on a campus this size.
“I was talking to Kim [Bendickson], and she said when she was at Florida [State University] it wasn’t called parking, it was called hunting,” Parking Services Coordinator Richard Bartelt said. “You would go to school an hour early just to drive around the parking lot in the hopes of getting a space.”
Parking Coordinator Mary-Ellen Barnick, who has patrolled the parking lots of New College for the past nine years, says that there is always more parking troubles at the beginning of the year.
“It’s the start of the semester and once they get acclimated they’re going to learn to leave their car and either ride their bike or walk,” Barnick said. Barnick is responsible for writing the on-campus parking tickets and says the majority of tickets are written for students not purchasing a permit.
“This year I broke my record of 30 and wrote 33 tickets in one day,” Barnick said. “But most of those will probably be waived once they purchase their permit.”
While the school offers a variety of parking permits, including motorcycle parking, value lot passes and other specialty passes, the most common are the regular student and staff annual passes. These passes are free for those who have a New College license plate – a $35 yearly charge. For students and staff who do not have the NCF tag, this permit costs $75 annually.
The cost of campus parking permits has not seen an increase since 2010, and falls far behind most other campuses. A standard parking pass at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg will cost a student $226 a year and specialty passes can cost even more.
This year New College’s parking services has collected $28,410 in parking permit fees and will expect to collect just under $20,000 in fines throughout the year. These figures are too low to keep itself sustaining and the difference is made up through the auxiliary budget and other avenues of funding.