This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Proposal restricts freshman parking choices

Published: February 17, 2005

Reporter Editor

Freshmen living in the residence halls will no longer be able to park in lots near the academic Spine during peak times during the week under a pilot parking reallocation proposal set to begin in the fall.

The proposal, designed to free up spaces in the choice parking lots adjacent to the Spine, was presented to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee at yesterday's meeting.

The restriction would be extended to commuter freshmen in the fall of 2006 if it is determined that more spaces need to be made available, said Maria Wallace, interim director of campus parking and transportation, who presented the proposal with John Grela, director of public safety, and Chris Austin, transportation coordinator.

Under the proposal, freshmen residing on the North Campus would have to park in one of the resident lots—Spaulding, Richmond, Fargo and Governors B and E on that campus—and use the campus transportation system to get around the university. Freshmen also could park in the Center for Tomorrow lot.

Freshman commuting to the North Campus would have to park in the Park & Ride lots—the Center for Tomorrow, Ellicott, Arena, Stadium, Lake LaSalle and Alumni lots—and use the shuttle service to get around campus.

Both commuter and resident freshmen would have to use the Main-Bailey and Parker lots on the South Campus.

The parking designations would be in effect from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Austin said that if freshmen are no longer allowed to park in the prime lots, there would be 2,106 fewer vehicles competing for those spaces.

The reallocation proposal is designed to alleviate the competition for spaces in the prime lots nearest to the Spine, Grela said. He noted that most spaces are filled by 9 a.m., and after that drivers wait in line and follow people who are leaving to their parked cars—a practice known as "sharking."

"The culture here on campus is to rely on your vehicle, whether it's to drive two minutes to a different campus location or to another a class or if it's between the two campuses—a reliance more on your vehicle than on the campus transportation infrastructure," Austin said.

Wallace said that in order to change that culture, Campus Parking and Transportation Services will promote its park-and-ride services and talk to parents and students at open houses and orientation session. During the first few weeks of classes in the fall, aides will be stationed at bus stops and shelters, as well as ride along on shuttle routes. They will give directions and answer questions, she said.

A change in the culture will result in less frustration among drivers, less congestion in the parking lots and at intersections, and less pollution because there will be fewer vehicles on campus, Wallace said, adding that it will provide for a "safer, more pleasant environment at UB."

G. Scott Danford, associate professor in the Department of Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, pointed out that while all the problems associated with parking have been identified as being behavioral problems, such as refusing to ride the campus buses and shuttles or to carpool, "your strategy is to discriminate against one particular group; it's not to address the behavioral problem, it's to go after one target group and victimize them, penalize them—freshmen—rather that to address the underlying problem that everybody is participating in.

"Freshmen are no more violators in these behaviors than sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students and faculty and staff, but they are the ones you've targeted to go after," Danford said. "And the rest of us continue to engage in these undesirable behaviors without penalty. As a matter of fact, we're getting rewarded for it and our life will get easier."

Grela agreed, saying that every time there has been an attempt to reallocate spaces from faculty and staff, "we've run into the union. All of that is negotiable," he said.

He noted that UB has created more than 2,000 parking spaces in outlying areas in the past five years "to try to help alleviate the culture. It's still not working."

The plan now is to approach this "new group"—freshmen—and "try to start to change the culture for them now." He said he also hopes to get a "buy-in" from groups like the FSEC.

Carl Pegels, professor in the Department of Management Science and Systems, School of Management, said he did not have a problem with the reallocation proposal since the practice of restricting where freshmen can park is being done at other campuses. However, he wondered why the "economic alternative"—charging students more to park in prime lots and allowing them to park for free in outlying lots—wasn't considered.

Grela said students already are paying a parking and transportation fee—currently $120.50 a semester, even if they do not ride the buses or park in the lots. That fee is used to fund the buses, as well as repairs and lighting in the lots, he said.