Being a commuter myself, I am sympathetic to issues involving parking. And having had a car that could not go in reverse, I have had more parking problems than most people. I also agree that more attention seems to be paid to campus residents than commuter students.
However, the solutions I see to fix campus parking are few and unsatisfying due to the problems involved with them.
Eastern Michigan University could probably expand or alter the layout of some of the parking lots to fit more cars, but it does not seem like that would provide a lot of relief.
Maybe EMU could expand Green Lot 1 into the bordering areas that are unpaved, but these areas are along the northern edge of campus, which would be the longest walking distance from the rest of campus.
EMU could also build more parking lots around campus or tear up a parking lot to build another parking structure. Money will definitely be an issue when it comes to any of these options: Construction is expensive. At a time when students are having issues affording college and the state is reducing funding, EMU would have to spend money, and that money would come out of the tuition we pay. This could result in a reduction of money provided to other services, a rise in tuition or both, at a time when we cannot afford it.
Space is also an issue deserving consideration. Where would we put a new parking lot or parking structure?
There seems to be a few spaces here and there where a small lot could be tacked on, but there does not seem to be any places where a large lot or structure would fit. To build a large parking structure, we would need to obliterate most of the open spaces on campus in order to have a noticeable impact. I do not want to go to a university that is one large parking lot, devoid of life, broken up by a few buildings.
One question is whether this is actually a problem. In a March 20 article in The Eastern Echo, The EMU parking department process coordinator, Beth Hardcastle, said Green Lot 1 has not been full this academic year.
I don’t even need to talk about Green Lot 2 or the Rynearson shuttle, because when I went out to Green Lot 1 on Monday around 10 a.m., about a quarter of the parking spaces were empty.
While I sympathize with time constraints and not wanting to walk far, I must question the idea that EMU should spend tuition dollars to expand parking when there are already plenty of empty spaces.
I take the shuttle because I cannot afford a parking pass, so I know something about inconvenience when it comes to parking. However, I cannot afford a tuition increase, either, nor do I think the average person can.
In the end, I do not think EMU should do anything about this “parking problem” because all solutions are more costly than any real problem that may or may not actually exist.