Western Herald – Student perceptions and attitudes about parking may be misdirected

Student perceptions and attitudes about parking may be misdirected

Western Herald File Photo

Erin Gignac

“If I knew I couldn’t park in there, I wouldn’t,” said a graduate student. “I’m 26 and I know better.”

Sandino Vargas, a graduate student studying computer science, needed to park on East Campus last Wednesday. He had a “B” parking sticker on his windshield. When he arrived at East Campus, he parked in the “W” student lot. B permits cannot park in W lots.

“I didn’t know you needed a special permit to park in there,” Vargas said. “There are too many rules for that simple of stuff. You just want to park.”

Rules and exceptions to the rules are what confuse students using Western Michigan University’s parking lots. If students get one warning without a ticket, then they ask for two, said Captain Carol Dedow from Parking Services.

They try to accommodate students with forgiveness and empathy, but have to maintain a somewhat strict approach so students know they can’t get away with everything, Dedow said. Parking Services is self-funded through parking pass and ticket revenue.

“They need to do an educational campaign for students,” Vargas said. “They need to tell us when they change their policies.”

Vargas tried to have the ticket forgiven by Parking Services; he explained that it was his first semester parking on campus.

“They’ve been trained so if you are going to complain about a ticket, they say no,” he said. “You need to have a booklet and learn it to not get a ticket.”

He said Dedow told him it was his responsibility and he couldn’t park wherever he wanted.

“She needs to listen to students and be a little bit more polite,” Vargas said.

Dedow said it’s all about perception.

“We get one extreme to the other,” she said. “We get some really truly nice people and we get some of the nastiest people I’ve ever seen. There were a couple weeks where it was pretty difficult with the name-calling.”

Every student that enters Parking Services must know that the office is being criticized on a daily basis. Dedow said that even though they don’t make the planning decisions, they are still the ones criticized for every problem with parking.

For example, the new Western View construction eliminated an entire parking lot.

“I was really concerned with that lot closing because we’re the ones who get the complaints,” she said. “I didn’t do it; I’m not campus planning. I would have parking lots everywhere.”

To accommodate for lost parking spaces near Western View, Parking Services partnered with campus planning and created more spaces in the Schneider Hall lot. They also expanded the parking lot near Rood Hall, which is where the bus routes used be located. The Sindecuse Health Center lot also has more spaces and the “F” lot near the Valley Residence Halls was turned into a “W” lot.

“The reality is: people do not want to walk,” she said.

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Erin Gignac is the editor in chief of the Western Herald. She is a senior with a double major in journalism and American public policy at Western Michigan University. Email her at herald-editor@wmich.edu

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