When job candidates for different positions come to campus, my standard “tell all” statement is this: I like working at EMU quite a bit, but I really get annoyed with the building I work in (Pray-Harrold) and I also get really annoyed with the parking situation.
Parking is a common problem at just about every college or university, but it’s a big deal here because EMU is fundamentally a commuter school. I don’t know what the statistics really are, but I’ll bet about two-thirds of our students drive five or more miles to get to school (which is quite a bit different from that liberal arts school in Ann Arbor), and some of these students drive a heck of a lot farther than five miles. The same goes for the faculty. My wife and I are somewhat unique in our department in that we can walk to school, though the fact of the matter is we often don’t (too much stuff to carry back and forth, bad weather often makes walking unpleasant, neither one of us walks when we teach at night, etc.)
So, you’d think that there would be a fair amount of attention to the plight of commuters, or rather, of parkers. Sadly, not enough. Part of the problem is there just are not enough parking spaces. But in my opinion, the bigger problem is that there is not enough parking enforcement.
Here’s a photograph of part of what I mean. For some reason, it is near routine for the gates at the enterance to various parking lots to either be broken like this or to be raised entirely. And just to make the obvious even more obvious: if the gate is broken or otherwise doesn’t work and if this happens all the time, then that more or less defeats the purpose for having a gated parking lot in the first place. I took this picture with my cell phone last Tuesday; the gate was still broken on Friday, and I would bet a month’s salary that it will be broken when I go into work today.
There’s also the problem of a serious lack of enforcement, and everyone knows that this is a problem. It’s fairly common for students and others to park illegally in the faculty/staff lot that is near the building where I work. I understand why students do this, but if I had done this at my undergraduate institution (and actually, I didn’t have a car as an undergrad), I would have certainly have been towed away.
It’s worth noting that if EMU really wants to enforce parking, they can. For example, faculty and staff can buy a parking spot. I’m not sure how much money it is, though I do know it’s hundreds of dollars and there is a fairly long waiting list to get a spot. As far as I can tell, one would pity the fool who parks illegally in one of these golden ticket spots.
Now, one of the things that’s potentially interesting about all of this is that one of the issues (supposedly) on the table for the next faculty union contract talks has to do with parking. Essentially, faculty don’t pay for their own parking right now– or rather, faculty receive parking as part of their current benefits package. As I understand it, the administration wants to start charging faculty what they charge students– I believe $75 a semester, though it might be less– for faculty/staff spots.
We’ll see if that actually comes to pass; I have my doubts. But if the administration is successful in charging faculty for parking, then:
- I’d rather pay a few hundred dollars a year to guarantee that I have a spot;
- They’d better fix the gates; and/or
- A lot more faculty (including me) will just walk.