If you asked UR students what they think is the most annoying problem at this University, you could probably guess the most common, automatic answer: the tuition prices, the inconsistent transportation, the food (whether for price, quality or both).
One answer that probably wouldn’t be so universal is “parking,” because it’s something that doesn’t impact us as often as the food we eat every day or as severely as the loans we need to pay to be at this place.
But if there’s one major, realistic change I would love to see happen at UR before I graduate, it’s an improvement of our public parking. Because, frankly, ours is the saddest parking situation on any campus I’ve seen.
Most of the time, parking problems only manifest themselves as matters of personal inconvenience — like this past weekend, when it took me about 20 minutes to find a spot on campus so I could grab a drink at Starbucks.
But on a larger scale, our public parking shortage leads to issues more important than having my long wait in a Starbucks line delayed by a long search for a spot.
Every year, when Meliora Weekend rolls around, the operative word to describe the parking situation is “chaos.” Sure, the Intercampus Drive and Park lots are fairly spacious, but after they’ve quickly filled up, the families that drove hours to come here have to either hope to find a spot on a campus street, or…well, their parking adventure isn’t quite over yet.
And, speaking of big events, the lack of parking is what keeps us from getting a lot of them. Which is not to say UR doesn’t already get many interesting visitors, because we certainly do. But there’s a reason why big names like Bob Dylan and John Legend always end up going to RIT.
And it’s not just because they have a big-ass venue there – it’s because they have plenty of parking to accommodate the crowds those awesome events bring in.
When I went to see Dylan’s concert at RIT this past semester, it was the first time I had actually been on that school’s campus. And when it came time for me to park, I thought to myself, “Damn, this is what we need at my school.”
Their parking lot was a magical, mystical wonderland of availability, where everyone attending the concert could find a decent-to-good spot in less time than it would take Dylan to blaze “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (that is, if he had actually played it that night. If only…)
Extensive public parking like that is a common thing for most college campuses. For instance, I’ve never been to a SUNY school that didn’t have similarly stadium-esque parking.
Meanwhile, our school has a few big lots, a few more undersized lots (isn’t it always a nightmare to find a spot in Library Lot when you most need one?) and, other than that, hardly anything else.
So what could be done to curb this problem? There’s not exactly a lot of free space around our campus that could, or ever should, just be turned into more parking space.
Meanwhile, almost any on-campus parking lot could become a parking garage, partially or completely.
Think about it: the frustratingly compact Library Lot could, instead, become a parking garage as tall as the adjacent UHS building. If even a small portion of the Park Lot became a garage, it would make a considerable amount of new space for visitors. It’s a project that would take some time to complete, but hell, those are the best ones for UR, right?
If we keep campus parking at the minimal level it’s at right now, we’re doing more than just inconveniencing people in our own community — we’re closing ourself off to the Rochester community at large.
UR would be open to more fascinating guests and opportunities for important events, if only our campus was more inviting to the interested patrons that would be driving in to participate.