Commuting Conflictions

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Residential student receives parking ticket for parking in Simon Lot. Photo taken by Alex Roberts

I walk outside with my black backpack swung over my shoulder towards my car parked in the farthest corner of my gravel driveway. The air is cool, and the ground is damp. I climb into my small, gas sipping car to begin my short 13 minute commute to school. I cannot believe I am starting my junior year of college.

With my first class beginning at 8:15am in Lyons, I should have plenty of time to park and head to class upon my arrival.

Well, at least that’s what I hope.

I arrive to campus at nearly 8 o’clock, taking a left off of 114 to the Lyons parking lot.   To my immediate right, I see that all the spots horizontal to where I am driving are occupied. In past years, those spots are rarely ever taken because they are the farthest away from the sidewalk to the academic buildings. They seem to serve as almost an “overflow” for the lot.

I let up the brake and edge forward traveling deeper into the lot to see no available spots among a sea of vehicles. Frustrated, I drive around the aisles, being nosey and looking on the rear windows of cars to see if they sport an NEC commuter parking decal like I do. Majority don’t.

With my bright red decal stuck to the back of my car, and no spot available to show for the $100 I spent on it, I angrily drive over to the CEI lot; another commuter and faculty “only” location on campus. There I am able to park next to some large pickup trucks that are purposely taking up multiple spots that could be used for other people.

I notice they also don’t have the correct parking decals.

In past years, I often have had to park much farther away than anticipated due to residential students parking in commuter lots. With many of our students coming from areas in or around New Hampshire, it can be essential for residential students to have cars on campus to get home during breaks or for other individual instances. Over my past three years as an NEC student, parking availability has been very inconsistent.

With the upcharge from $75 to $100 for a parking decal, I was hopeful that parking regulations would be stricter regarding specified lots. While this specific incident I mentioned was in the first days of the semester during the “grace” period for those students who have not purchased decals, it starts a new year of struggles for me being a commuter.

I don’t mind having resident student cars on campus, it only becomes a problem when spots are taken up by these students in my designated lots. Or, by students who do not have a decal at all. From my standpoint, I see it as you can walk to class and I can’t.

When it is a beautiful fall or spring day on campus there is little reason any residential student would need to drive from their dorm to a commuter lot to go to class. And if you do have a legitimate reason, Campus Safety will cut you a break and give you special circumstances if you need them.

Commuter lots are utilized most prominently during days with inconvenient weather forecasts. Especially during the winter months, often right after a snow storm or during one, commuter lots are used by residents who don’t want to walk through the storm to get to a class that wasn’t canceled. Again, you can walk to class, I can’t.

This also comes into play with rainy days. Commuter lots are packed full of no decal cars or residential decal cars. And the real stinger is, there seems to be no reinforcement to not do it again.

While Campus Safety appears to do a lot of patrolling within the first month of school regarding decals, there have been many times during the regular semester that I have parked and walked past residential decal cars with no parking tickets, finished class and walked past them again to still see no ticket. One of my friends who previously was a residential student, parked in commuter all the time for her classes due to the convenience of where the lots are and hardly ever got ticketed.

I understand the temptation to park in commuter lots with the two primary lots at CEI and Lyons, our newest and primary academic buildings. For me, it’s awesome to have my parking lots be directly beside these buildings because it means I don’t need to budget time to walk there. But it can be a major inconvenience when the lot is full, regardless of who is parked there.

CEI tends to be the biggest problem with being full because it is a dirt lot with no lines separating spots leaving drivers the ability to park as close or far from the car beside them. This results in the lot filling up far faster than it needs to, and no parking violations when a car is parked poorly because there are no guidelines to go by. I feel that if there were some sort of repercussion for parking poorly in this lot, there would be more available spaces for cars to park.

During the construction of the Lyons Center, my primary place to park was CEI. I had no idea where to park if that lot was full, because Simon lot, which is faculty and commuter, is usually filled up all day with staff until about 5 o’clock. There was actually an instance where I was not able to attend my class because I did not know where to park because CEI all the way down to the Ice Rink was filled up along with the Simon lot.

Since the construction of the Lyons Center and the new parking lot I feel more confident about finding somewhere to park between those locations, but it has also opened doors for those who are not faculty or commuter to park there without punishment.

Parking has always been an issue for me regardless of what time I arrive on campus. My freshman year, our class was said to be the “biggest class” NEC ever had. Then my sophomore year came around, and the new freshman class was even bigger than mine. And you guessed it, my junior year began with the class of 2021 being the largest freshman class ever to enter NEC.

With the ever-growing amount of students being admitted to New England College, the amount of parking continues to be limited, especially when, parking lots marked as “Commuter and Faculty” only, have more green residential decals than black and red.

Parking as a commuter student fluctuates on availability of spaces throughout the year. This has to do with the inconsistency of how often Campus Safety patrols and checks for cars with the correct decals throughout the semester.

But, I have noticed within the past week, more spots have become available in Lyons after a large amount of the cars parked there received tickets for being residents in a commuter lot. As I said, parking on campus fluctuates and I may drive to campus tomorrow and the lot may be packed with residential students who have not been ticketed, or there may be plenty of available spots. I’m hopeful that the availability of spots in Lyons will continue to go up for the rest of the year, as it hasn’t always in the past.

New England College is growing every year, and while the parking lots we have currently should accommodate all faculty and commuting students, it barely makes the cut when the lot is shared with those who don’t belong there.